What makes an intracity rivalry game better? How about a heaping of postseason positioning with a dash of extra pride served in a neutral venue.
Mankato West looks to defeat Mankato East for the first time since 2017 when they meet at the Minnesota State Mankato's Verizon Wireless Center on Tuesday. It's the next serving in one of the more competitive series across the sports between the two Mankato schools.
Despite its sub-.500 record, the Scarlets (7-8-2, 4-5-1) have been competitive against the teams above them in the Big 9 Conference standings. They just haven’t quite been able to pull out a win. They lost 4-3 in overtime on Dec. 29 to league leader Owatonna and were defeated 5-4 in overtime to third-place Northfield on Jan. 5. Mankato West also fell 3-1 to second-place Albert Lea on Jan. 10.
The Scarlets have had production across the lineup, but Brandon Swenson is hot right now, scoring at least one goal in his last four games and six overall. He also had an assist in the first meeting against the Cougars — 4-3 loss on Jan. 8 — and is on a 10-game point streak.
Four of the last six games in the crosstown series have been one-goal games, including two overtime finishes. West had a 4-0-1 record in the regular-season rivalry between 2014 and 2017, but East enters the contest winning the past four.
Mankato East (11-6-1, 6-2) could help its case for the top seed in Class 1A, Section 1 — where it currently leads — by sweeping the season series. Additionally, the Cougars are two points behind first-place Owatonna in the Big 9 standings.
East senior Sam Schulz (18-9-27) seems to get going for the rivalry — he has a goal in each of the last five games against West.