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BEA boys built for the ice

Passion drives Bucs to rep Fairmont hockey

November 27, 2016
Cody Benjamin - Register Staff Writer ( , Faribault County Register

They do not attend Fairmont High School, but Kaylan Legred and Bryan Karp may have fans of the Cardinals' varsity hockey team thinking otherwise when the 2016-17 campaign kicks off Nov. 29.

Both Legred and Karp, seniors at Blue Earth Area High School, serve as captains for the Fairmont squad. And they are not the only Buccaneers masquerading as Cards in order to quench a passion for Minnesota's signature on-ice sport.

Juniors Sam Welker and Karson Legred, Kaylan's brother, are also part of BEA's cooperative sponsorship with Fairmont, which enables area students to play organized hockey out of the arena in the Martin County Fairgrounds.

Article Photos

From left to right, Kaylan Legred, Bryan Karp, Sam Welker and Karson Legred pose at Blue Earth Area High School. The four BEA boys travel to Fairmont to play for the Cardinals hockey team as part of a cooperative sponsorship with the nearby school.

"We've just got a passion for the game," says Kaylan. "Minnesota is the state of hockey, and we've got that passion."

They have so much of it, the boys agreed, that Fairmont's team, coached by Kris Olson and featuring 16 varsity athletes, virtually depends on contributions from BEA to square off with Section 3A competition.

The fact that two of the Cards' five senior players come from Blue Earth Area exemplifies that. But so does the chemistry between hometown Fairmont players and the four Bucs boys who rely on their own transportation to attend practices and games.

"We blend with the guys pretty well," Kaylan says.

There is, of course, still a healthy dose of banter outside the rink regarding what the BEA quartet calls the "classic Blue Earth-Fairmont rivalry," with a handful of players and coaches alike playfully prodding the BEA students about representing their Big South Conference counterparts.

When it comes to suiting up and taking the ice, however, neither school names nor conference rivalries matter much to a handful of guys who simply seek the thrill of the sport.

"We just love the game," says Karp, who does not think twice about adorning a "Cardinal Hockey" sweatshirt.

If BEA had its own rink, Karp thinks the Buccaneers might have a case for their own roster, but he, Welker and the Legreds are used to getting their fill of hockey no matter the circumstances.

"I've been playing since I was in kindergarten," Karp says. "And Kaylan and Karson played for the Albert Lea Hockey Association before coming to Fairmont."

Kaylan recalls swinging a hockey stick as early as three years old, and Karson admits he followed his brother's footsteps by the time he was six or seven.

Welker, meanwhile, is in his seventh year playing the game.

As the boys look toward the season, the seniors of the bunch fully aware that each game of 2016-17 brings them closer to a high-school sendoff, they settle on a common goal for the year coming together as one.

It is a fitting target for a group of guys that already goes above and beyond to fit in with another school's hockey program. Parents play a part, too, as they are responsible for the expenses of travel and equipment as part of the agreement with Fairmont.

But the goal of team unity is also one grounded in the hockey passions reiterated time and time again by the four BEA athletes.

"We've definitely already become more of a team," says Kaylan. "We have heart on this team."

Outside of a select few personal ambitions, such as Welker's aim to record more assists than goals by the end of the year, the Buccaneers-turned-Cardinals are primarily focused on improving as a whole.

Sized up against perennial powerhouses in Albert Lea, Luverne and other towns, the Cards have "historically been not good" when it comes to overcoming the numbers game of larger opposing teams, according to Karp.

But that is where a step forward as a unit not as Blue Earth players or Fairmont players but as one team with shared efforts comes in.

"We want to redeem ourselves," says Welker, who typically plays right wing for the Fairmont squad.

Only the regular season results will dictate whether or not redemption occurs, at least from a record standpoint, but at the very least, Fairmont has a handful of Blue Earth boys to count on.

Whether it is Kaylan Legred, who prides himself in bringing speed to the game; Karson Legred, who associates his style with more aggression; Bryan Karp, who thrives in positioning on the ice; or Sam Welker, who gives "110 percent on the ice," the Cardinals have no shortage of Buccaneers willing to help.



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