Its that time of year again. Its time for the 5th Annual Hockey Day Minnesota which has quickly become quite a tradition in the State of Hockey. Its something I look forward to, a near day-long celebration of the sport that I really believe defines Minnesota. I remember being a kid and skating in the "Pit" in Elk River. Those days were the best. Even if you were by yourself you could practice whatever moves you wanted and you scored the game winning goal in game 7 in your mind over and over again. The sound of the skates cutting into the ice, and grabbing your stick (a well-taped Christian wooden stick from Warroad, Minnesota) and skating into the boarded area where the local kids would play outdoor hockey until they shut the lights off. Just like your classic pond hockey memories, you picked teams by throwing your sticks in a pile while a person closed his eyes and began throwing sticks randomly to the left and right. Scores were kept only to mark breaks in the play where you may decide to recharge by a quick jaunt to the warming house for hot chocolate. It doesn't get anymore pure than that. That really what the whole day is about. Its about celebrating Minnesota's hockey heritage. I've tried to do my part. While I know my main focus is on the Wild but I do give time to college hockey and of course high school hockey action as well. Why? Because to me that is what being a Minnesota hockey fan is all about, its celebrating all levels of hockey. I remember when the NHL had the lockout in 2004-05, that many Minnesota fans simply grasped closer to college, high school and minor hockey to make up the difference as they had done after the North Stars left in 1993. Whether you can remember when Herb Brooks coached the Golden Gophers or were there watching the always feisty Glen Sonmor leading the North Stars to its first Stanley Cup Final in 1981 or were there for the Gophers' back to back national titles in 2002 and 2003 its a great chance to remember these great moments. Its a chance to remember those players that shaped the game in Minnesota; players and coaches like Neal Broten, John Mayasich, Phil Housley, Scott Bjugstad, Henry Boucha, Willard Ikola and Lou Nanne have been integral part of its evolution.
Canadians love to tout how hockey is "their" game but this is OUR game too! The action starts at 10:00AM where the top rated Wayzata Trojans battles perennial northern power house Roseau in an outdoor game in Moorhead. Next is another outdoor match up as host Moorhead faces-off against #1 ranked Hill-Murray. After that the Minnesota Golden Gophers hope to avenge a loss to the University Denver last night as they hope to earn a series split against the Pioneers. For Wild fans this is a terrific opportunity to see two prospects; Erik Haula of the Gophers and Jason Zucker of Denver go head to head. Lastly the Minnesota Wild hope to earn another two points against the St. Louis after beating the Blues last night in a dramatic 5-4 shootout win. There is a full 14-hours of coverage of hockey on Fox Sports Net and in between the games there are a number of stories that demonstrate just how important the game can be in people's lives. The State of Hockey News has always committed itself to covering this event better than just about anyone else. We will cover all of the games and hope you enjoy reading. Feel free to post your favorite memories of Minnesota hockey no matter how big or small as the state celebrates the game.