Minnesota's Hockey Traditions Continue

148th Fighter Wing Civil Engineering members deployed to the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan pose for a photo on Sunday, March 7th, 2010 during a floor hockey tournament held in honor of the 2010 Minnesota High School State Hockey Tournament.  (Photo by MN National Guard)

148th Fighter Wing Civil Engineering members deployed to the 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan pose for a photo on Sunday, March 7th, 2010 during a floor hockey tournament held in honor of the 2010 Minnesota High School State Hockey Tournament. (Photo by MN National Guard)

A Minnesota National Guard member proudly models a special t-shirt made especially for a floor hockey tournament at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan in honor or the 2010 Minnesota High School State Hockey Tournament March 7, 2010.  (Photo by MN National Guard)

A Minnesota National Guard member proudly models a special t-shirt made especially for a floor hockey tournament at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan in honor or the 2010 Minnesota High School State Hockey Tournament March 7, 2010. (Photo by MN National Guard)

Air National Guard members of the 148th Fighter Wing Civil Engineering Squadron and the Army Reserve 372nd Engineering Battalion enjoy a game of floor hockey during a tournament held at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan in honor of the 2010 Minnesota High School State Hockey Tournament on Sunday, March 7, 2010.  (Photo by MN National Guard)

Air National Guard members of the 148th Fighter Wing Civil Engineering Squadron and the Army Reserve 372nd Engineering Battalion enjoy a game of floor hockey during a tournament held at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan in honor of the 2010 Minnesota High School State Hockey Tournament on Sunday, March 7, 2010. (Photo by MN National Guard)

Air National Guard members of the 148th Fighter Wing Civil Engineering Squadron and the Army Reserve 372nd Engineering Battalion posed for a photo Sunday, March 7th, 2010 during a floor hockey tournament held in honor of the 2010 Minnesota High School State Hockey Tournament.  (Photo by MN National Guard)

Air National Guard members of the 148th Fighter Wing Civil Engineering Squadron and the Army Reserve 372nd Engineering Battalion posed for a photo Sunday, March 7th, 2010 during a floor hockey tournament held in honor of the 2010 Minnesota High School State Hockey Tournament. (Photo by MN National Guard)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- In honor of the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament, members of the Duluth-based 148th Fighter Wing and St. Paul-based 372nd Engineering Brigade, an Army Reserve unit also serving at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan organized and played in a hockey tournament over the weekend (Sunday, March 7th, 2010). 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.

Game 1: Bulls defeat Wolves (9-2)
Game 2: Dogs defeat Bulls (5-2)
Game 3: Dogs defeat Wolves (4-2)


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".

Members of the 148th and 372nd live and work in all areas of Minnesota. Those from the northern tier of the state are rooting for Duluth East, Hermantown, Virginia, Warroad, and Roseau. Those from the metro area are rooting for Alexandria, Minnetonka, Hill-Murray, Breck and Blaine.