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Minnesota natives, Arizona allies train, take part in summer league

Derek Stepan and Alex Goligoski are among nearly 100 professional players participating in Da Beauty League

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf /

Look to Edina, Minnesota for your summertime pro hockey fix.

There, among many other NHL players, you'll find two members of the Arizona Coyotes roster, center Derek Stepan and defenseman Alex Goligoski , taking part in a summer league that spans a seven-week stretch.

The games feature four-on-four play plus goalies, with offside, icing, and all other regulated hockey rules applied during a game length that terms two 23-minute halves.

"I think it's a combination of the lightheartedness that the fans get to see, but I also believe that it's a good skate for us," Stepan said. "I think it's something that guys enjoy doing, it's not the normal hockey you play during the season, there's a little more creativity, seeing things that don't normally happen during the regular season, but it's fun to be a part of and it's a good sweat."

The committed rosters, released Tuesday, have Stepan playing for Team BIC and Goligoski playing for Team RBC. Two other players in the organization, defenseman Jordan Gross and forward Hudson Fasching, each of whom played full seasons with the Tucson Roadrunners last year, are among the nearly 100 professional names participating.

"You get to interact with guys you play against here and there during the year," Stepan added. "The camaraderie with the other players is what makes it so special and so much fun."

Da Beauty League's 2019 season officially kicks off this evening, with Stepan and Goligoski going head-to-head.

"I think the best part about it is, for me, I get to play against Goose, tonight I'll get to play against Goose, and I think that's more entertaining, in my eyes at least, that I get to play against a guy that I play with all of the time."

Stepan registered 12 points in just four games last season, while Goligoski posted 16 in nine games after being named the league's MVP in 2017.

This will serve as one of the very few times that Stepan and Goligoski will skate opposite each other. The Minnesota natives dedicate most of their summer training to being on the ice together.

"We skate together every week," Stepan said of his training regiment with his teammate. "Any skate I'm at, Goose is at, and any skate Goose is at, I'm typically at. The skating is locked in for us pretty much every time. We train at different spots but we skate together pretty much every summer everywhere we go, and we wear the same jerseys so that we never get split up. Da Beauty League is the only time we're ever split up."

Despite being on separate rosters last summer, the two, by joint plan, never once faced off as opponents.

"Last year we refused to play against each other," Stepan said. "Whenever one of our teams matched up last year, one of us had to miss. So, this year will be the first match-up in a while between me and Goose."

‪Welcome back Hastings, Minnesota native Derek Stepan! 👏 ‬ #daBL

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