University of Mary's Ben Kottmeier had never saw snow for the first 20 years of his life.
Two years ago the San Mateo, Calif., native moved to Montana to play for the Helena Bighorns of the North American Tier II Hockey League. On Saturday, Jan. 19, Kottmeier was playing in the coldest hockey game of his life.
Kottmeier broke a 1-1 tie with the go-ahead score 3 minutes, 6 seconds into the third period against the University of Jamestown during the inaugural Hockey Day North Dakota. The Marauders later scored an empty-net goal to defeat the Jimmies 3-1 on the outdoor rink constructed on UJ campus.
"We had a practice on Thursday and it was outside. It was probably 10 degrees," Kottmeier said. "It was my first time skating outside, so it was pretty cold.
"I got nervous coming into today thinking I was going to be miserable the whole time. But luckily I got out there in warmups, threw two layers on and kept warm. It was a dream."
Kottmeier played in 39 games for the Bighorns last season, tallying 46 points (26 goals, 20 assists). This year the forward has tallied 31 points in 38 games (21, 10).
I lived in the Bay Area my whole life, so it was pretty interesting coming to Montana and North Dakota," Kottmeier said. "I'm starting to get acclimated to it, but not entirely. Especially when it's this cold."
And cold it was. Temperature at the start of the game were around 5 degrees and only dropped after the 6:45 p.m. start.
Allan Pruss gave the Jimmie-heavy crowd something to cheer about in the first period as the junior from Red Deer, Alberta potted a goal off assists from his twin brother, Michael, and Jeremy McNeil.
"After the goal, Jeff Romsdal, the guy who organized this said, 'It must feel good to score the inaugural goal?'" Allan Pruss said. "I didn't think about it much at the time. It's a pretty special event and hopefully we can do it next year."
The Jimmies led after one period, but turnovers plagued the hosts.
Mary leveled the contest at 1-1 with a unassisted goal by Bismarck native Jakob Parisien at the 8:18 mark of the second period. Jamestown once again committed a turnover in the third period that was the game-winner.
"Both teams can play really well, but one or two mistakes can be the difference," said Jamestown coach Cole Bell. "We're a team that plays tight games, we grind it out and when we have mistakes like that it's going to make the difference."
Added Pruss about the second goal: "We just got caught in our defensive zone. We just got caught in the slot, a man got lost, and he (Kottmeier) put on a good shot."
The Jimmies heavily outshot the Marauders 35-19 throughout the contest, but Mary goalie Aaron Nelson stood on his head for most of the night. Nelson is a Minnesota State University Mankato transfer that was supposed to be the goalie coach until a transfer rule allowed him to play as a super senior.
"He's been our No. 1 all year," said Mary hockey coach Daniel Huntley. "He wouldn't have been able to come to a ACHA Division I. He's fantastic."
The Marauders are 31-5-2 in American Collegiate Hockey Association Division-II. They won't be eligible for postseason this year.
On the other end, Jamestown dropped two games below .500 at 10-11-1. The Jimmies welcome Eastern Michigan University for a two-game series Jan. 25-26 at John L. Wilson Arena.
"We got two Ws at Eastern Michigan," Bell said. "It's going to be a good opportunity. We're going to get right back to work at practice tomorrow and switch our focus to the Eagles."
University of Mary 3, University of Jamestown 1
UM 0 1 3 -- 3
UJ 1 0 0 -- 1
1. UJ, Allen Pruss (Michael Pruss, Jeremy McNeil), 13:53.
2. UM, Jakob Parisien (Unassisted), 8:18, 9.
3. UM, Ben Kottmeier (Zachery Garrett, Drew Lenertz), 3:06; 4. UM, Cyril Nagurski (Alex Flicek), 19:40, EN.
Penalties: UJ, 5 for 10 minutes. UM, 5 for 10 minutes.
Goalie saves: UJ, Tyson Brouwer 6-6-5--17. UM, Aaron Nelson 13-10-12--35.
Records: University of Jamestown 10-11-1. University of Mary 31-5-2.