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  • The History of Hockey Day Minnesota, Part II


    We continue our walk through the history of Hockey Day Minnesota, now focusing on the last 5 seasons of the spectacle. In these versions of the event, the focus area seems to be more around the metro area whereas the first 5 years spent more time out-state. As the even has grown over the entire decade, we see new

    2012 - Pagel Activity Center, Lake Minnetonka

    Hockey Day Minnesota in 2012 was a unique monster, in that it featured no outdoor hockey games. Temperatures had soared into the 50’s just a few days before the event, causing all kinds of issues and making the outdoor surface unplayable. So this January 21st, HDM would head indoors to the Pagel Activity Center for the youth games. It was also a year where we welcomed the girls back into the fold, and saw 5 hockey games once again.

    Kicking off the day, a game not seen on TV until much later as the girls of Minnetonka beat up on Hopkins by a 5-1 margin. Our first game on television this day was a battle between the boys of Grand Rapids and White Bear Lake. Grand Rapids would edge WBL 4-3. Then a battle of behemoths as Minnetonka took on Duluth East to close out the kids games. Minnetonka proved the better team this day, by a wide margin, winning the game 9-3.

    The Gophers would call on Colorado College this year, and the Gophers would edge them out in the end, winning 2-1 before the NHL’ers took to the ice. For the second time in HDM history, the Wild would take on the Dallas Stars, and earn a 5-2 victory. Some of your favorite names of Minnesota Wild past would end up on the scoring sheet this day, with goals from Devin Setoguchi, Cal Clutterbuck, Chad Rau, Kyle Brodziak and Dany Heatly. One of my personal favorites of Wild yesteryear would pickup an assist in the contest, one Greg Zanon. Carson McMillan, Jed Ortmeyer and Warren Peters would also get assists in the game Wild over Stars 5-2

    2013 - Lake Pokegama, Grand Rapids

    January 19th, 2013 would earn its place in Hockey Day Minnesota lore for a host of reasons. Nothing bigger than it marked the start of the regular season in the NHL though. As I’m sure the memory of the 2012-13 lockout is still a painful moment, Minnesota kicked off the regular season right by marking it with the annual celebration in the State of Hockey.

    The outdoor games were also fraught with some heavy winds, and near white out conditions during the games. It was quite the sight, and very tough on the kids to keep the puck moving across the ice.

    The day would start off with the girls Grand Rapids-Greenway team skunking Hibbing-Chisholm 6-0. Again, this game would not be seen on TV until much later in the evening. It was not a good day for Hibbing-Chisholm, as their boys team fell by a 9-2 margin to Eagan. It would be a good day for Grand Rapids, as the GR boys team was able to get past Benilde-St. Margaret’s with a 3-2 overtime victory. Jack Jablonski who was paralyzed in a game on December 30th, 2011, was on the bench as an assistant coach for the game.

    The Gophers this go around would take on one of their biggest rivals, the University of North Dakota. These games are often physical, and often hard fought. This one however, there would be no winner as the teams battled to a 4-4 tie.

    The feature game of the day would of course be the Wild taking on the Colorado Avalanche. The Wild would win on HDM once again, a 4-2 victory over the Avs at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild would win after 2 Dany Heatley power play goals, Mikael Granlund would also score for the Wild as well as Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Not a lot of interesting names on the assist sheet which we haven’t already covered, but Greg Zanon did get an assist for Colorado.

    Zenon Konopka also shows up in penalty log after fighting Cody McLeod 2 12 minutes into the game. Konopka’s bunny however did not show up in the game logs, just later on twitter.

    2014 - Handke Pit, Elk River

    On January 18th, 2014, HDM would make it’s way to the great town of Elk River with the outdoor games being played at the what may go down as one of the most perfect locations to date. Handke Pit in Elk River was like a natural amphitheater. We would also get a look at one very creative families way to watch hockey on Hockey Day Minnesota. They had built up a snow wall in their backyard and used a projector to cast the days games to the snow screen. Complete with a bonfire and warm drinks, this is one family that found a way to do it right.

    The games would start with the boys Cloquet/Esko/Carlton beating Rochester Lourdes 4-1 and followed up with Elk River beating Stillwater by the same score. The girls would once again have their game broadcast later in the day, where Anoka was victorious over Elk River 3-0.

    The outdoor festivities would keep on rolling for the college game this year, as the Gophers welcomed Ohio State to TCF Bank Stadium where the Gophers won 4-2. The Wild would cap off the days actions with a 3-2 victory over the Stars, who made their 3rd appearance on HDM. As we’re getting closer to present day, the names are not so miraculous. However, we did witness some rather miraculous events in this game.

    Scoring his first ever NHL goal would be one Erik Haula. Ryan Suter would also score a goal in the game, which is nearly uncommon enough to be called miraculous. The hero of the day though, would be Elk River native Nate Prosser. Prosser would score the game winning goal against the Stars.

    2015 - Holman Field, St. Paul

    January 17, 2015 Hockey Day Minnesota would take things to another level in the “St. Paul to Kuwait” day featuring games at Holman Field in St. Paul and live broadcasts from Kuwait where Armed Service members from Minnesota were stationed. It was a great showing as we were treated to live cut ins from Kuwait as our brave soldiers got to kick back and enjoy a little reminder of home.

    The games would start with the boys St. Paul Johnson squad beating Luverne 6-5 on the ice rink build right on the tarmac at Holman Field. That game would be followed by Hill-Murray topping St. Thomas Academy in an overtime game 3-2. The girls would get in on the action, as per the standard the game was played on TV after Wild game. The Cretin-Derham Hall ladies were victorious over the Duluth Northern Stars 5-4.

    Rounding out the amateur action on the day, the Gophers would play the Wisconsin Badgers where they earned a 5-2 victory. The Wild would win their 6th straight game on HDM with a 3-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. The Wild would get goals from Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker with an empty netter coming off the stick of Zach Parise late in the game. Interstingly enough, Devan Dubnyk would get an assist in the game on the Zucker goal. Justin Fontaine would also get an assist on the Zucker goal.

    2016 - Bayfront Park, Duluth

    On the greatest day in any calendar year, February 6, my birthday, Hockey Day Minnesota would travel back up North. This time taking place at picturesque Bayfront Park in Duluth. With Lake Superior as a backdrop, the boys of Duluth-Denfeld would get the best of Eveleth-Gilbert by a 5-2 margin. Next up was a battle between a couple powerhouses as the boys of Lakeville North brought their road game and outlasted Duluth East in a 3-2 game by the bay.

    Things would not fair the brst for the college and professional teams this go around though. Penn State, known for a million things over hockey, would put the screws to the Gophers and win 5-3. The Wild would fall short in their bid to get the Minnesota split, losing to the St. Louis Blues 4-1 in their game.

    With just 1 goal being scored for the Wild, and it being last year, we don't have a lot of shocking names you might have forgotten in this one. Matt Dumba scored the lone Wild goal with assists coming from Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle. Jarret Stoll getting a roughing penalty is about as interesting as the box score gets, and that my friends is not interesting in the least.

    So here we are now, on the cusp of the 11th iteration of Hockey Day Minnesota, set to take place in Stillwater on the banks of the St. Croix River. Lifelong memories will be created for a bunch of kids set to take to the ice this weekend, and just maybe we’ll all take something special away from the event too. This year we’ll finally get to see the Girls High School game live, as well as the Gophers Women’s team, although they have been relegated to Fox Sports Plus. It was disappointing how the ladies were not shown the kind of respect they deserve and have their games broadcast live. Next step, get them on the big channel with the boys! You can find the complete schedule in our preview for Hockey Day Minnesota.

    Have any special memories of HDM? Share them below in the comments

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