This rivalry dates to the mid-1960s, when Fort Frances started its high school program and International Falls won the inaugural 1964 matchup 5-4 in overtime, rallying from a 4-1 deficit. International Falls didn’t have an indoor rink of its own at the time, and practiced and played at Fort Frances’ Memorial Arena, which was always packed for the border battle matchups.
Crowd control became an issue in the 2000s, when dead fish were routinely tossed on the ice and the occasional fisticuff was thrown in the stands. Those shenanigans led to a hiatus of the games between the teams for several seasons.
These days the rivalry is back and as healthy as ever, with a new border battle trophy, a walleye perched atop a wooden pedestal, spicing up the twice-annual showdowns.
International Falls won this season’s first meeting 3-2 on a pair of goals by Brady Wicklund, including the winner with 7:44 remaining. Wicklund, a junior, leads the Broncos (12-8-1, 5-3-1), who are having one of their best seasons in recent years, with 15 goals and 28 points.