Are you ready for The Tourney?
Every March, the spotlight shines on the State of Hockey, as buses and caravans descend on downtown St. Paul for the Minnesota State High School Boys Hockey Tournament.
The pageantry and passion from all corners of the state emanates not only at Xcel Energy Center, but in schools, bars/restaurants, social media and watch parties everywhere.
Here’s a quick guide to enjoying the marquee event.
Watch parties: Can’t make it to Xcel Energy Center? Organize a watch party at your house and invite your friends and teammates over. Stuck in school? Ask your teachers nicely if they can turn the games on TV.
Don’t miss the player introductions: One of the biggest thrills for kids who make it to The Tourney is hearing their name called during player introductions; skating up to the camera and saying “Hi mom, hi dad.” It’s just another example of how pure the event is.
Feel the flow: Another highlight of the introductions? You guessed it: Hockey hair. It’s been featured in national publications such as The New Yorker and ESPN. Viral videos have garnered millions of views. The flow at The Tourney never disappoints.
Walking down West 7th: Warming temperatures, melting snow and West 7th Street in March means playoff hockey is here. Grabbing a meal before, during or after games to feed off the excitement is a must. The swarms of jerseys, jackets and hoodies from all over the state make downtown St. Paul one true Minnesota melting pot.
Go to the Expo: Another annual rite of passage is stopping by the Expo at the Saint Paul RiverCentre on Friday and Saturday. Check out the latest gear, swag, clothing, novelty items, meet hockey celebrities and more in the exhibit hall. Open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Wear your team colors: Your high school team may not have made it to The Tourney, but that shouldn’t stop you from wearing your team colors. Represent your hometown with pride.
Wall of jerseys: One of the coolest elements of Xcel Energy Center is the ring of jerseys that represent every boys and girls high school team in the state. These can be found throughout the arena. Find your hometown’s jersey, snap a picture and share it with friends and on social media.
Fill out a bracket: Who has the hot goaltender? Will there be a Cinderella story? Encourage your family, friends and teammates to fill out a bracket. Put something fun on the line to show just how passionate and knowledgeable you are about high school hockey.
Enjoy the bands: It’s not just the hockey players putting on a show. From each school’s fight song to classic tunes and pop music, high school pep bands add a special element to The Tourney atmosphere.
Get a souvenir: Buy a souvenir, t-shirt or tournament program to remember the event. As kids get older, look back at the old “vintage” keepsakes together. Each State Tournament brings new memories, heroes and stories – all of which add to the tradition.
Remember the big moments: Cherish the game-winning goals, big-time saves and MVP performances. Some of these players will go on to play college or pro hockey. Most of them will not. But one thing is for certain: household names are made at the Minnesota state high school hockey tournament.