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Elevating the Maverick Hockey game day experience

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 11:04 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - It takes a village to successfully house one of the top Division I ice hockey programs in the country.

The growing effort to match the Minnesota State hockey game day experience with the product on the ice is showcased on Civic Center Plaza.

“It’s pretty special. It’s kind of a reminder because we don’t realize all the things that go into building our community and building our team and all the support that we have. So, I think it’s pretty cool when it’s recognized, and I think it reminds us of how important our community is and how thankful we are for them,” junior forward Sam Morton said.

Two smoking, purple-eyed mavericks are in place to welcome Maverick hockey fans into the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center.

The additions are courtesy of local donors Michelle and David Schooff, the Mankato Area Foundation, Twin Rivers Council for Arts, and the City of Mankato.

“We really wanted to make this one of the most difficult places to play for competitors. And, that means getting fans to come and watch, filling the arena and getting kids to love the game of hockey as well. Anything we can do to bring kids and families down here to enjoy the game of hockey is something that Dave and I are passionate about. Getting kids involved at a young age and even today, seeing the [Mankato Area Hockey Association] kids here crawling all over the sculptures, taking pictures and enjoying themselves. It just made us so happy,” donor Michelle Schooff said.

“The Schooff’s came with this idea of this breathing, sort of, monsters with these lighted eyes and I’m just a sculpture. I thought, well this is a little crazy, but this is fun. So, this is an opportunity to try something new. I really do believe in the fan experience where people are interacting with the pieces and getting excited about the event that’s happening,” sculpture artist Kyle Fokken added.

“My first thought was how does someone make that, how does that come together, looks like it was a lot of work. It’s really exciting, I like it a lot,” Morton said.

“It’s more about the eyes, they talk about the eyes being the window to the soul. For instance, this one is weary and the other one is what I call fierce. I look at them as two sides of the same personality or even siblings. It’s about the different characteristics,” Fokken said.

“I really hope that these become part of the Maverick tradition for hockey, as the coaches are out recruiting and they bring new recruits here and they see that we are serious and committed,” Schooff explained.

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