February may be a couple months away, but the excitement surrounding the Winter Olympics is about to take a major jump here in Minnesota. Over the next three to four weeks, there will be all kinds of activity for Team USA including several major events in the State of Hockey.
Here is a breakdown of what's coming soon and a couple things to keep in mind as the Olympics speed towards us.
South Korea Preview – The 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea are quite a ways off right now but Minnesotans will have a chance to get a preview of potential stars for that future Team USA this December. The 2014 USA World Junior Training Camp will be held in Minneapolis at Mariucci Arena on Dec. 15-18. The World Junior team will also take a trip to Mankato to play Minnesota State in an exhibition game at the Verizon Wireless Center.
Bring on the World – The USA Women’s National Team is coming to the Xcel Energy Center on Dec. 28th in preparation for the 2014 Olympics. You won’t want to miss this showdown with archrival Canada in what could be a preview of this February’s Gold Medal game. Plus, one lucky winner will receive four tickets to the game, a team autographed jersey and an hour of instruction for your youth hockey team with local legend Natalie Darwitz by entering Minnesota Hockey's Ultimate USA Hockey Package Contest!
New Year’s Announcement – USA Hockey added a little extra anticipation to this year’s NHL Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Michigan as they announced that they will be revealing their Olympic teams at Comerica Park on that day. The Women’s team will be named during the game with the Men’s team being announced following the game.
Alumni Showcase – The Men’s Olympic Team could have a distinct Minnesota flavor as 14 of the 48 players invited to this summer’s orientation camp were Minnesota natives. Those players spanned 13 different communities ranging across most of the state.
Each association should take great pride in their ability to develop elite talent and showcase these alumni in the community. Whether it is a banner at the local rink or a column in the newspaper, small efforts can make a big impact on the support of our players, Team USA and local kids’ interest in playing hockey.
Rockin’ in the USA – With a USA Hockey store recently coming to the Mall of America, there has never been a better time to add Team USA apparel featuring standouts like Parise and Backes to your Christmas list. Stock up now so your kids can show off their new gear at school leading up to the start of the Olympics.
Hockey Sleepover, Anyone? – One of the most popular traditions for any big game is to host a party. Everyone gathers together to make the experience of the watching the game that much more exciting. With the potential for some early morning start times during these Olympics, the tendency may be to shy away from that event this year. Don’t forget kids love sleepovers though, and a supervised sleepover with an early bed time could be a great way to get the best of both worlds.
Host a Watch Party – Not up for holding a sleepover? Even if games are broadcast live in the early morning, they will likely be shown again later in the day. Then, you will have the chance to host neighborhood kids over for the game and some snacks. Cap off the evening by hitting a nearby pond or outdoor ice sheet for a quick game of shinny and you will have a night to remember.
Try Hockey For Free – The Winter Olympics are a major highlight for hockey fans worldwide as our sport takes center stage during one of the biggest events in sports. Take advantage of that excitement by participating in Try Hockey For Free Day on March 1st, the first Saturday following the closing ceremonies. With this growth initiative, your association can utilize the combined resources of Minnesota Hockey, USA Hockey and NBC to capitalize on a golden opportunity to grow the game in your community.