by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
When the Elk River-Zimmerman skaters were receiving their second-place medals after their 3-1 loss to Andover in the section finals, Andover coach Melissa Sailor fixed a compassionate gaze on one of them as she skated across the rink — her sister Mandy Sailor, Elk senior defenseman.
“We are used to it,” coach Sailor said about being on opposite sides, “but it never gets easier, especially right now, the section finals. It’s very bittersweet. This Mandy’s last high school game, so she is always going to remember it, unfortunately. We probably won’t talk for a day or two, but then I hope to get a hug! But I’m afraid of (talking to) her right now.”
The coach’s assessment of the Elks co-captain: “Mandy is a very defensive ‘D,’ the kind of player that doesn’t get a lot of attention, but they are what every single team needs.”
Melissa Sailor, 26, who played for Irondale High School and St. Olaf College (the family later moved), has coached against Mandy for four years, the first three as an assistant, one at Champlin Park and the last two at Andover before moving up to head coach.
Their parents watched the game with probably double the interest of most parents, knowing they’d be both happy and sad out the outcome. The girls’ mother, Brigette, was asked the impossible question about whom to root for. “Ah, no comment,” she said, laughing. “They are both winners. I am just so proud of them.”
Mandy Sailor, asked Wednesday evening about playing against her sister’s team, said, “It’s kind of weird, but I try not to think about it.” Mandy said she never skates over to say hello, but if she catches Melissa’s eye she will wave. “Not just at Melissa, but her assistant coach too. That’s her fiance.”