A Division I reunion
MINNEAPOLIS – It had been four years since Rose Alleva and Paige Haley shared the ice together in a game.
When the two were donning purple sweaters for Red Wing, Alleva was a senior on her way to becoming a Ms. Hockey semifinalist and was capping off a high-school career that included three All-State and five All-Missota Conference nods before heading to New Jersey to play at Princeton University.
Meanwhile, Haley was an observant freshman forward for the Wingers who would go on to become a four-time All-State defenseman, a five-time All-Missota selection and a Ms. Hockey finalist.
It was Alleva’s example that Haley, now in her freshman year at the University of Minnesota, emulated her entire high school career.
“I really just absorbed what she did and watched her during practices and games and tried to (mimic) what she did when I was older,” Haley said of Alleva.
“Rose was a great leader and she displayed how to be tough and a good, disciplined player. She was someone I idolized and I always wanted to be a player like her.”
And on Saturday and Sunday, the former Red Wing teammates were adversaries as Alleva’s Tigers took on Haley’s Golden Gophers at Ridder Arena.
But on Saturday, you couldn’t tell immediately that Alleva was wearing the black and orange of the visiting team as she got a warm reception from a large Red Wing contingent that made the trek to the Twin Cities to cheer on the former Winger duo.
“When they called my name for the starting lineup, it was almost as loud as the Gophers, so I was pretty happy with that,” said Alleva, who is tied for the Tigers’ team lead with nine points (five goals, four assists). “It really picked me up when I was down or when we were getting scored on.
“On the ice, it’s all business, but after the game (Saturday), I went into the stands and saw my family and a lot of extended family came up, and I had some friends in the Twin Cities come as well.”
Ultimately, it was a rough homecoming for Alleva, as the top-ranked Gophers teed off on the Tigers with a sweep, 6-0 on Saturday and 9-1 on Sunday.
“Minnesota’s the hockey state, so when we came in, we knew it was going to be tough,” said Alleva, who finished the weekend with a minus-4 plus/minus rating and two shots on goal. “They just ended their (62-game) winning streak, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to play hard every time they came out. We tried to focus on our game and what we could do better as a team.
“The score didn’t show it as much as we wanted it to, but we worked hard.”
While Alleva played at Princeton, Haley said that they stayed in contact via text messages and occasional visits whenever there was a long enough break to return to Red Wing. Whenever Alleva came by, Haley continued to pick her brain about hockey at the next level.
“I would ask her a lot of questions,” Haley said. “I was searching Division I schools when she was coming home and I would ask her what it was like to be a Division I player and how hard it was. She never made it seem like it wouldn’t be something I couldn’t handle.”
On Saturday, both Alleva and Haley saw time on the blue line for their respective teams. But in Sunday’s series finale, Haley was moved to right wing on the fourth line, matching up the two Red Wing alumnus several times during the game. Alleva said that while neither she nor Haley exchanged words during the game, they did catch each other’s eye a couple times.
“(Haley) got more playing time in (Sunday’s) game. She deserved it,” Alleva said. “She’s a really hard-working person and I respect her as a player.”
But a couple times near the net, Haley gave Alleva some “love taps” on the back with her stick.
“Of course,” Haley said with a laugh. “You have to do that with an old teammate.”
With the Red Wing weekend over, Haley and the Gophers resume their hunt for a third straight national title while Alleva and the Tigers try to get back into postseason play after missing the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference playoffs for the first time in 11 years in 2012-13.
Still though, the weekend playing against one another, and hearing the cheers of the Red Wing faithful did spark plenty of memories of when Alleva and Haley shared the ice at Prairie Island Arena.
“I miss Rose a lot,” Haley said, “and I wish we were closer in age so we could have played together longer.”