The tournaments, the stories, the people and places – Minnesota hockey is rich in tradition. Those traditions must be passed on to honor the game and keep the culture strong.
Here are ten time-honored Minnesota hockey traditions:
Hockey Day Minnesota
What began in 2007 in Baudette Bay immediately became a Minnesota hockey staple. Hockey Day Minnesota is a premier event and must-see TV featuring individuals, teams, coaches, officials and volunteers from communities throughout the state. The full-day broadcast from the outdoor rinks and culminating with the Minnesota Wild is a celebration of what makes hockey in Minnesota special and unique.
Hoodies, jackets, hats – wearing your team’s gear is a great source of pride. Watch a Wild or college game and you’ll see swarms of kids in their association swag. When you put on your team colors, you’re representing your community – and that’s what Minnesota Hockey’s all about.
Sticks in the Middle
The best way to pick teams for shinny hockey. Everybody throw their sticks in the middle. One person closes their eyes, and tosses sticks to each end of the ice. Game on!
Out of Town Tournaments
While limiting travel time and costs is an important feature of the community-based model in Minnesota, there’s something special about weekend/holiday tournaments around the State of Hockey.
The hotels, knee hockey, pool, bowling and pizza are often the highlights of the season. Team bonding for players, parents and coaches strengthen relationships and create lifelong memories for all.
Indiana has basketball, Texas has football, Minnesota has high school hockey. The trek to Xcel Energy Center every late February and early March for the boys’ and girls’ high school state tournaments is a Minnesotan rite of passage. No other place in the world will draw standing-room only crowds for high school hockey.
Watching teams punch their tickets to state is just as exhilarating. Every hockey community is represented in the section tournament. Every team has a fighting chance, with the ultimate goal of making it to the big dance in St. Paul. Section semifinals and finals are often held in big-time and historical venues such as Amsoil, Mariucci and Aldrich arenas. Some of the best and most intense hockey you will see all year is at section tournaments around the state. Could this be the year for your school? You don’t want to miss it.
Watching the movie “Miracle” at least once every season is a source of inspiration, entertainment, history and pride. There’s no better film to help motivate and bring a team together for big games and tournaments. Quoting the characters in the locker room and on the bench is a fun bonus, too.
We are fortunate to have five Division I men’s and women’s college hockey programs scattered throughout the state. The history and traditions of each program are all special, and most of the talent on the rosters is homegrown. In Minnesota, it’s a dream to suit up for your high school, and then it’s a dream to play college hockey.
Telling tales of Minnesota icons such as Herb Brooks, Henry Boucha and Natalie Darwitz is fun. But just as important is teaching youngsters about players, coaches and volunteers who came through their local associations. Each hockey community has its own special people and history that helped shape what it is today.
The bands and student sections at local high school games, decorated cars at Region and State Tournaments, and hairstyles are all part of the Minnesota’s unique hockey culture and style. When the season is on the line, you can expect each community to show up and rally behind its teams, win or lose. The kids will never forget that support and enthusiasm.