Tornado goalies share ice with NHL Legends
(From left: Ken Carroll, Reid Mimmack, Jake Stafford, Joakim Jutras)
Opening Weekend at Dr Pepper Arena proved to be an exciting one for hockey fans around the Metroplex. After the Tornado knocked off the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in a pair of overtime games on Friday and Saturday, the 4,000-seat arena in Frisco played host to another contest on Sunday.
In an event held for Dallas Stars full season-ticket holders, former legendary players such as Brett Hull, Joe Nieuwendyk, and Mike Modano took the ice with current members of the team. Even former Stars netminder Ed Belfour was in uniform, though he played as a defenseman and was not in goal. Instead, three Tornado goaltenders were on the ice and in between the pipes for the 2011 Alumni Classic.
“It was a great opportunity for the guys to get out there and play with some of the greatest players in Dallas Stars history,” Tornado head coach and General Manager Tony Curtale said. “I’m sure it’s something that none of them will ever forget.”
Jake Stafford, Reid Mimmack, and Joakim Jutras -- along with former Bossier-Shreveport Mudbug Ken Carroll -- all had the opportunity to make stops against some of the best players to ever don the Stars green-and-black. For Stafford, a Dallas/Fort Worth-area native, being able to play in the Alumni Classic meant even more.
“These are all the guys I watched growing up,” Stafford said. “I watched them win the Stanley Cup. Being able to play with them, there really aren’t any words to describe it.”
“It was surreal,” Mimmack said. “It really hasn’t even completely sunk in yet. But it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Mimmack hails from Brainerd, Minn., and like Stafford, has his own personal ties to the Stars franchise.
“They were the Minnesota North Stars before they came down here,” he said. “To be out there with a player like Mike Modano, who started there, it was an incredibly great feeling.”
“And then after the game, to be congratulated by guys like that,” he added. “That was just icing on the cake.”
The game didn’t come without the occasional bout of horseplay, especially for Stafford.
“The opposing team had a 2-on-1, and [former Star Craig] Ludwig grabbed my head and put me in a headlock,” Stafford said. “And he was on my team!”
“At that point, I just went, ‘Wow, that was really Ludwig. Awesome.’”
The game was played in two halves, with a shootout serving as the on-ice entertainment during the intermission. Jutras and Mimmack were selected to be in goal.
“Reid made a few nice stops in the shootout,” Stafford said. “And now he gets to go and brag about making saves against some NHLers.”
For Mimmack, it’s been a whirlwind past few days. He played with the Springfield Jr. Blues last season and only arrived in Frisco last week. He started and won his first two games with Texas on Friday and Saturday, however, and then got a chance to play in the Alumni Classic on Sunday.
“It’s been awesome,” he said. “It’s kept me on my toes and kept me busy. There’s all kinds of opportunities down here and it’s been a blast so far.”