Photo Credit: SPX Sports
With three teams from Minnesota reaching the NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Frozen Four, the State of Hockey and its community-based model has made its way into the national spotlight again, and deservedly so. Michigan is the only other state to have three teams from within its borders reach the Frozen Four, doing so back in 1992.
It’s an impressive feat, no doubt, and one that may not soon be replicated. However, it’s also not a fluke.
In the 2020-21 season, the American Hockey Coaches Association counted 195 men and 147 women playing Division I college hockey from Minnesota, which accounted for 13.4% and 19% of all players, respectively.
Last week, when it was announced that all five Minnesota schools would be competing in the NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Tournament for the first time ever, the Star Tribune highlighted the impact Minnesota players and teams would have on the tournament.
The article noted that 115 players from Minnesota would be competing in the tournament, including 73 on the five Minnesota teams. The next closest state was Michigan with 33. Impressively, all five Minnesota schools also advanced to the NCAA Regional Finals.
"Having the five Minnesota schools in the NCAA tournament is directly related to the development model that has long been in place in Minnesota, which is community associations feeding into high schools," College Hockey Inc. executive director Mike Snee told the Star Tribune. “There's no doubt that Minnesota's impact on high-level players is entirely because of the unique way that an aspiring hockey player in Minnesota plays their hockey… They play for their community as a kid and their high school as a high schooler.”
When the Frozen Four begins on April 8, there will be 44 players from Minnesota on the four teams’ rosters, comprising 40% of all the participants. Combined, they will represent 29 different high schools across the state, ranging from small, out-state schools like Hibbing and Park Rapids to metro power houses like Blaine, Elk River and Minnetonka. The large majority of the players also played high school through their senior year, including all six players from Hermantown, which led all communities.
A similar Minnesota flavor was also evident in the Women’s Frozen Four. Despite Minnesota Duluth being the only team from Minnesota, the State of Hockey led all states and provinces with 25 players, more than four times the states with the second most (6).
Minnesota hockey icon Lou Nanne echoed Snee’s praise for high school hockey and how it helps set the state apart: "Our high school program is stronger than anywhere around the country. That is what solidifies Minnesota as being a top producer, but it also enhances guys' opportunities."
Best of luck to all the Minnesota players and teams with the opportunity to play for an NCAA National Championship!
|St. Cloud State||Easton Brodzinski||Blaine||Blaine|
|St. Cloud State||Brady Ziemer||Carver||Hutchinson/Holy Family|
|St. Cloud State||Nick Perbix (TBL)||Elk River||Elk River|
|St. Cloud State||Micah Miller||Grand Rapids||Grand Rapids|
|St. Cloud State||Joe Molenaar||Minnetonka||Minnetonka|
|St. Cloud State||Chase Brand||Nevis||Park Rapids|
|St. Cloud State||Sam Hentges (MIN)||New Brighton||Irondale/Totino-Grace|
|St. Cloud State||Seamus Donohue||North Oaks||Mounds View/St. Thomas Academy|
|St. Cloud State||Spencer Meier||Sartell||Sartell|
|St. Cloud State||Will Hammer||St. Cloud||St. Cloud Cathedral|
|St. Cloud State||Trevor Zins||St. Michael||St. Michael-Albertville|
|St. Cloud State||Jack Johnston||St. Paul||St. Paul Academy|
|St. Cloud State||Brendan Bushy||Thief River Falls||Thief River Falls|
|St. Cloud State||Luke Jaycox||Warroad||Warroad|
|Minnesota State||Dallas Gerads||Blaine||Blaine|
|Minnesota State||Cade Borchardt||Burnsville||Burnsville|
|Minnesota State||Jake Jaremko||Elk River||Elk River|
|Minnesota State||Reggie Lutz||Elk River||Elk River|
|Minnesota State||Wyatt Aamodt||Hermantown||Hermantown|
|Minnesota State||Ryan Sandelin||Hermantown||Hermantown|
|Minnesota State||Jack McNeely||Lakeville||Lakeville North|
|Minnesota State||Ryan Edquist - G||Lakeville||Lakeville North|
|Minnesota State||Andy Carroll||Northfield||Northfield|
|Minnesota State||Riese Zmolek||Rochester||Rochester Century High School|
|Minnesota State||Evan Foss - G||White Bear Lake||White Bear Lake|
|Minnesota Duluth||Wyatt Kaiser (CHI)||Andover||Andover|
|Minnesota Duluth||Koby Bender||Cloquet||Cloquet|
|Minnesota Duluth||Louie Roehl||Eden Prairie||Eden Prairie|
|Minnesota Duluth||Zach Stejskal||Grand Rapids||Grand Rapids|
|Minnesota Duluth||Darian Gotz||Hermantown||Hermantown|
|Minnesota Duluth||Blake Biondi (MTL)||Hermantown||Hermantown|
|Minnesota Duluth||Cole Koepke (TBL)||Hermantown||Hermantown|
|Minnesota Duluth||Jesse Jacques||Hermantown||Hermantown|
|Minnesota Duluth||Jarrett Lee||Hibbing||Hibbing|
|Minnesota Duluth||Nick Swaney (MIN)||Lakeville||Lakeville South|
|Minnesota Duluth||Connor Kelley||Maple Grove||Osseo-Maple Grove|
|Minnesota Duluth||Luke Loheit (OTT)||Minnetonka||Minnetonka|
|Minnesota Duluth||Brady Meyer||North Branch||North Branch|
|Minnesota Duluth||Matt Anderson||Shakopee||Shakopee/Holy Family|
|Minnesota Duluth||Jackson Cates||Stillwater||Stillwater|
|Minnesota Duluth||Noah Cates (PHI)||Stillwater||Stillwater|
|Minnesota Duluth||Ben Almquist||Victoria||Chaska Chanhassen/Holy Family|
|Minnesota Duluth||Kobe Roth||Warroad||Warroad|