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'Beauty League' Provides Good Time For Good Cause

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

The term "beauty" in hockey circles is reserved for the most flattering of distinctions: a beauty is like the prom queen, your funniest pal, and most reliable acquaintance balled into one.

It's with that icy vernacular that came the name of arguably the most skilled NHL offseason event, which takes place every Tuesday and Thursday night at Braemar Arena in Edina.

On those nights, fans can come by and purchase tickets to watch a collection of local talent — college players, minor leaguers, and plenty of NHL guys — compete in a six-team league, which hosts three games whenever it meets.

It's called "Da Beauty League," and it's donating some of its proceeds to United Heroes League, an organization that brings sports to the children of military families through free equipment, free camps and clinics, and free tickets for families to enjoy games.

Over the summer months, it's common for players to train with one another, combining the pros and amateurs, but in Minnesota, it's different.

"It's been too long to do this," Wild defenseman Nate Prosser said. "We have so many good American Hockey League players, and college players, and NHL players right here in the Twin Cities area over the summer, so why not doing something like this? There are probably 50 of us that are all professional players that are looking for ice in July, so it works out perfectly."

Da Beauty League's player participants read something like an All-Star team, and not just for an offseason recreation league. With the likes of Zach Parise, David Backes, Ryan McDonagh, Dustin Byfuglien, Nick Bjugstad, and plenty more, the price of admission ($5 per person, or $25 for a season pass) is well worth it.

And of course, it's for a good cause.

"[United Heroes League] is, you talk to most guys that are playing, coaching, they've all been affiliated with it in some way or another, and they do great things," said Keith Ballard, a former Wild defenseman and a coach in the league. "This isn't a big moneymaking thing. Let's get everyone together, let's have fun, and we'll put the work in to set it up, but let them have fun, and let's raise some money for some cool charities."

There's also a strong contingent of Wild players that fill out the rosters, with Parise joined by defensemen Mike Reilly and Prosser, goalie Alex Stalock, and prospects Mario Lucia, Hunter Warner, Zach Palmquist, and Louis Nanne.

The result is, players who have either grown up together, or become teammates or rivals, pitted against each other for two 30-minute running time halves.

On Tuesday night, Prosser and Reilly found themselves on opposite teams. The duo played just over 50 minutes together during Reilly's rookie season. They spent about an hour on opposite teams in what turned into a friendly rivalry, with Prosser's team coming out on top, 6-3.

"He was skating like the wind out there like he usually does," Prosser said of Reilly. "He's going hard; I was trying to yap at him to tone it back a little. We'll have to take him down a notch."

It's all in good fun, and all for a good cause, two of the league's core tenets.

"All these guys are skating all summer, but it's a group here, a group there, a group over here, and this is way to get everybody together, and let's all do it together, and have some fun with it," Ballard said.

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