Like the hundreds in attendance Friday evening, Minnesota’s new governor drove to the Parade Ice Garden through a heavy snowfall. He then took part in a ceremonial opening face-off, pressed the flesh, sat and watched the first seven or eight minutes of the opening period and then left the building.
Had Gov. Mark Dayton waited a little longer, he could have walked out with Benny Bissonette, the tall Minneapolis Nova defensemen who got his team’s first two goals but split to go sing in a concert at St. Mary’s Basilica.
Bissonette returned for the third period, which concluded with the Nova’s, the Minneapolis Public Schools’ combined high school hockey team, soundly beating the Pine City/Rush City Dragons, 8-2.
Asked after the game if leaving to sing might have deprived him of a chance for the hat trick, Bissonette chuckled, “I really never thought about that.”
The Novas are now 10-1-2 on the season and host La Crescent tonight at the Ice Garden and play St. Paul Highland Park Tuesday at the Victory Memorial Ice Arena.
The Novas really put the game away in the first period with four goals, the two by Bissonette, and one each from Nick Hacker and Newt Fuller.
After two periods the score was 6-1, with the Novas’ Jack Kelly firing a blast just inside the blue line and just a little over a minute later, Hacker got his second goal of the night on a shot that mirrored Kelly’s.
In the third period, Fuller got his second goal of the game and Tony Pnewski closed out the scoring at 11:30 to make the final 8-2.
First year Novas coach Shawn Reid said outside his team’s locker room that he is “ecstatic” about how his kids are playing.
“We were a bit sloppy in the first period even though we were up 4-0,” Reid said. “We made some adjustments between the first and second periods and it showed.
“There was some obvious chippiness at the beginning of the game and I was glad our guys stayed away from it and didn’t get any stupid penalties.”
Reid added that he “is pleased by our play in goal” during the season, citing both T.J. Mosley’s win against Pine City/Rush City as well as the other goalie, Patrick Kelliher.
Adding to the political favor of the night, Kelliher’s mother, former Minnesota House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, was in attendance and even sat next to Dayton at the start of the game. The two were opponents in last September’s DFL gubernatorial primary that was won, obviously, by Dayton.
Bissonette, who attends southwest High School, said the hockey game-concert conflict was weather-related.
“We were originally supposed to perform back in December when the big snow storm hit.”
A baritone, Bissonette performs with the Southwest Singers, a high school choir.
Besides hockey, he has a love of music and while uncertain if he will pursue that as a major once in college, he does hope to get some music scholarships.