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Keeping The Mighty Ducks Dream Alive in the North Metro

By Tina Eskrow, President of North Metro Youth Hockey Association, 03/23/13, 11:30AM CDT


North Metro's Bantam B1 team celebrates their first place finish in the Mounds View Thanksgiving Tournament

Do you remember "The Mighty Ducks" series of films? A major part of "D3: The Mighty Ducks" was filmed north of Minneapolis at Columbia Arena in Fridley. Unfortunately, this nostalgic piece of Minnesota history has fallen into disrepair and is treated like a distant memory. Local volunteers have worked long and hard to ensure that youth hockey in the area wouldn’t follow the same path, and their efforts are starting to reap fantastic rewards.

When Anoka County sold the ice arena to the Minnesota Youth Sports Association (MYSA) in 2005, the surrounding community anticipated a redevelopment of the Columbia Arena site. Upon further evaluation, the MYSA concluded that two million dollars would be needed to update the facility. This financial goal was out of reach, and the site has remained vacant since 2006.

Until Anoka County sold it, Columbia Arena was home to Fridley Hockey Association and Tri City Youth Hockey Association (Fridley, Columbia Heights and Brooklyn Center). That group merged with Brooklyn Park Youth Hockey and formed into North Metro Youth Hockey Association (NMYHA) with players from Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Columbia Heights and Fridley. The NMYHA rarely turn away an eager participant as their teams are drawn from much smaller pools of players than many of the other local hockey associations.

Reminiscent of the small team in "The Mighty Ducks", the Bantam age group had a total of 26 skaters and three goalies try out for the current season, and the Peewee age group had a total of 24 skaters and three goalies. These small groups were split into two teams (B1 & B2) at each level. This is the first season since its inception that NMYHA has two of their boys teams qualify for the Minnesota Hockey State Tournaments. Both B1 teams qualified for a state tournament with the Bantam team falling just short of a title with a 4-3 loss to Wayzata in triple overtime. The Peewees fared quite well by winning the consolation championship!

With players from a variety of ethnic backgrounds including Dominican, Korean, and Thai, the Bantam B1 team shows a multicultural camaraderie rarely seen in hockey. The PeeWee B1 team has an African-American coach whose son is one of the top players on the team.

While these players and coaches may never witness the nationwide success and notoriety “The Mighty Ducks” did, their success is unprecedented for both the players and the association. Together, they have proven that youth hockey can and will continue to thrive in the north metro area.

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