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  • The History of Hockey Day Minnesota, Part I


    Welcome Wilderness, to the week of the 11th installment of Hockey Day Minnesota. We've become old hands at this action, a full day of hockey from outdoor games to indoor. From the high school ranks, through college, and of course we cap off the night with some great NHL action. Although the night finishes with the Minnesota Wild, the day is more about the kids. A full day of outdoor hockey, celebrated with bonfires, hot cocoa, and of course good company and great hockey. Let's take a stroll down memory lane.

    2007 - Baudette Bay, Baudette

    This travelling circus has made many stops along the way. The origin of course was January 20th, 2007 when teams squared off literally on frozen pond. The site, was Baudette Bay on the Rainy River, way up North right on the border to the land of maple syrup and Tim Hortons. The event started small, with just 3 games included. Kicking it all off was a game between St. Paul Johnson against Lake of the Woods, followed by the Denver Pioneers at the Minnesota Gophers in college hockey action, and capping the day off was the Dallas Stars visiting the Minnesota Wild.

    Lake of the Woods would win 5-3 over St. Paul, The Gophers beat the Pioneers 5-4, and it would take a shootout for the Stars to best the Wild. 2-1 in the innagural event. The lone goal for the Wild scored by Mikko Koivu and assists going to Mark Parrish and Keith Carney. For Dallas, Antti Miettinen would get an assist on the day. For the outdoor game, the cold didn't seem to phase the players. It's a spectacle that wasn't much of a thought at the time, but after knocking it out of the park, the idea became an annual event, and was expanded in the next season to become the truly day long event we've all come to know.

    2008 - Baudette Bay, Baudette

    On February 9th, 2008, Baudette Bay would once again host the event. It's the location in the 11 seasons which has hosted twice, and in consecutive years nonetheless. This iteration, we would have 5 games. 3 High School games, 1 college and of course the NHL contest. Kicking it all off, 2 far North teams took to the ice early in the day. Eveleth and Lake of the Woods School played in what would end up being the coldest day in Hockey Day Minnesota lore. Lake of the Woods worked over Eveleth 5-0 on a day where the high temperature reached a balmy -17 and wind chills dipping down towards -60 as day gave way to night.

    Hill-Murray and St. Thomas Academy would not make the trip up North for the day, instead facing off at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Hill-Murray would get the best of STA this day, winning 4-3 in overtime. Blaine would make the trip up to Baudette to continue the days action and take on Roseau in the great frozen tundra. Roseau would win 1-0, but the mercury dipping so low, camera lenses for the FSN crew were freezing and production would be shut down.

    The day would move back to St. Paul as the Minnesota Wild would invite the New York Islanders to town. The Wild would get their first win on HDM, a 4-3 OT victory over the Islanders. Some fun names on the score sheet for the Wild that day, Kurtis Foster had a goal and an assist. Brian Rolston scored twice for the Wild and Brent Burns capped the game with an overtime winner. Assists to Stephane Veilleux, Martin Skoula, James Sheppard, Mikko Koivu, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Marion Gaborik, and Nick Schultz. Quite the list of names there huh? A good blast from the past.

    Closing out the day would be the Denver Pioneers against the Gophers once again. This go around, the Pioneers would get the better result, scoring 4 goals to the Gophers 1. It is also the only time in HDM history where the final live game of the day was not the Minnesota Wild, although in subsequent years there would be broadcasts of other games that had taken place during the day after the Wild finished off the live broadcast.

    2009 - Phalen Park, St. Paul

    On January 17, 2009, Hockey Day Minnesota would find it’s way down to the Twin Cities for the first time. Held in Phalen Park in St. Paul, it would feature 5 games once again, including 2 outdoor games at the High School ranks. Rochester John Marshall would fall to St. Paul Johnson by a 4-0 margin to kick off the day. In the marquee High School game, Duluth East would come down to play White Bear Lake at the Xcel Energy Center. Duluth East would put up 6 goals to WBL’s 3, winning comfortably indoors. While this game was being played, HDM brought in something new to the mix, although we wouldn’t see the game on TV until later. For the first time, HDM feature girls High School teams as Stillwater locked horns with Minnetonka, with Stillwater taking the victory with a 2-1 scorecard.

    This year, the Gophers would take their talents on the road, and take on the St. Cloud State Huskies at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in St. Cloud. It was some real fire wagon hockey at the college ranks, with the Gophers emerging victorious 8-6. The Wild would call the Anaheim Ducks to come to town, but would not fare well as the Wild were blanked 3-0 on home ice.

    2010 - Hermantown

    January 23rd, 2010, Hockey Day Minnesota traveled to Hermantown. This would be a special sort of monster, as the weather wasn’t exactly cooperating with keeping the outdoor ice conditions playable. Auxiliary plans were in place were in place to move the games indoors if needed, and with rain coming down in the days preceding it seemed almost inevitable. Mother nature would yield, and the outdoor games took place as scheduled.

    Hopkins would start the day off with a 6-0 drubbing of Marshall School, followed by host Hermantown falling to Eden Prairie 4-3 in a game marred by heavy snow. Snow of course, isn’t helpful for creating optimal conditions, but this would not be the worst of snow conditions HDM would experience.

    Following the High School games, the Gophers would welcome the St. Cloud State Huskies to Mariucci Arena for a rematch of the previous years college hockey action. This go around, the Huskies would get the best of the Gophers, winning a 4-1 game

    The NHL action this year would be a battle of the 2000 NHL expansion teams as the Wild would play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets. This would also be the first year the Wild would play under a new coach on HDM as well. Jacques Lemaire retired after the 2008-09 season, and first time bench boss Todd Richards had taken over. Mikko Koivu would score 2 goals for the Wild in the 4-2 victory, with additional goals coming from Eric Belanger and Robbie Earl.

    Some other fun names on the scorecard, Antti Miettinen for the Wild this time, Andrew Brunette, Owen Nolan, Shane Hnidy and Martin Havlat, all earned assists in the game. Derek Boogaard also shows up earning a major penalty for fighting.

    2011 - Moorhead

    HDM in 2011 would take place in Moorhead on February 12th. Once again it would feature 2 outdoor High School hockey games, followed by the college game and finishing with the Wild. Wayzata and Roseau would start things off with Wayzata needing overtime to secure a 2-1 victory over the Rams. Hill-Murray would win a 3-2 game over the host Moorhead later in the day before we worked our way into the 2nd half of the day.

    The Gophers would play host to the University of Denver, and the Gophers would lay down a 7-3 victory over the Pioneers. Following the college game, the Wild would welcome the St. Louis Blues to town and once again find themselves on the winning side of things, securing a 3-1 victory over the Blues. Cal Clutterbuck would score for the Wild in a game that featured more penalty minutes than actual game minutes. Also scoring for the Wild would be Antti Miettinen and Kyle Brodziak who now plays for the Blues.

    It’s been a long journey just to get this far! We’ll continue on with part 2 of this coming down the pipe a little later today. Have a Hockey Day Minnesota memory? Share it with us below in the comments section.

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