Some Minnesota soldiers based in Afghanistan brought the spirit of the boys' hockey state tournament to Bagram Airfield, organizing and playing a hockey tournament on March 7 in honor of the hallowed event. The game consisted of members of the Duluth-based 148th Fighter Wing and St. Paul-based 372nd Engineering Brigade, an Army Reserve unit. Here is a snippet of a story posted on the 148th's web site. Click this link for a few more details and for pictures:

The tournament was held on a concrete basketball court, with nets made of lumber and bed sheets. The round-robin style tournament consisted of three teams with each team playing two games of two 15-minute periods. 148th Civil Engineer, Master Sgt. Doug Ion acted as the tournament referee. The 148th fielded two teams named the "Bulls" and the "Dogs", while the 372nd had one team called the "Wolves". Tournament highlights include a hat trick by 148th player Chief Master Sgt. Mark Rukavina in Game 1, and a shut out in the second period of Game 3 by 372nd goal tender Specialist Malachi Kennedy. The "Dogs" ultimately won the tournament, but the memories of the camaraderie are what the players will remember most.

Lt. Col. Kurt Wagner from the 372nd Engineering Brigade said that "being able to bring a piece of Minnesota to Bagram by playing hockey in conjunction with the State Tournament had done wonders for troop morale. We need to do this more often!"

148th Civil Engineer and tournament planner, Staff Sgt. James Foster thought "it was great to be able to celebrate the State High School Hockey Tournament while we were here. It is such a big event back home that even though we missed it due to deployment, we could still feel a part of it."