Minnesota Hockey Journal likes to set goals (and score them). So after savoring our time on the lakes, golf courses and ball fields this summer, we came back with a new goal as hockey starts again: Let’s be extra Minnesotan this season.
We are a proud hockey state. It’s easy to forget just how good we have it here — so we took the time to remind ourselves just what exactly it means to be Minnesotan.
It means community-based hockey. We play with our friends in our neighborhood all the way up.
It means outdoor hockey. The Land of 10,000 Outdoor Rinks is where we hone our skills and learn how to be creative on the ice.
It means Hockey Day Minnesota is clearly labeled on your calendars for Jan. 17 at Holman Field in Saint Paul.
It means high school hockey. Youth hockey players in Minnesota idolize the varsity players at their high school. As kids rise through the Peewee and Bantam ranks, they start talking and daydreaming about what it will be like for their senior year of high school hockey.
It means rivalries. Not just in-state rivalries, but intercity and crosstown rivalries. Within those borders we might have our feuds with neighboring cities and associations, but we all show our pride together as one under the Minnesota Hockey family.
It means finishing every drill and shift hard.
It means rummaging through all the draft rankings and national team rosters to identify how many Minnesotans were selected.
It means reciting lines from the movie “Miracle.”
It means college hockey means a lot more to us than anyone else.
It means several trips to Xcel Energy Center for Wild games and the state high school hockey tournament.
It means you will probably already know your head coach for the season. He or she might be your best buddy’s dad/mom, or your neighbor or even a former college/pro player.
It means “Thank you, mom and dad,” for driving you to practices and games.
It means being a leader. Minnesota Hockey is a leader in the national and global hockey community, which means we need to be leaders in our communities.
It means you don’t have to rush to the next level. You can develop at your own pace, with your own team, in your own community.
It means the big hockey trip in Minnesota is up to Duluth or Moorhead or down to Rochester or Mankato, not halfway across the country.
It means Minnesota Hockey State Tournaments. “Playing in a state tournament is the dream of every hockey player at any level in Minnesota,” said Zach Parise. “It’s a great feeling to achieve a dream.”
There will be wins and there will be losses. But what we will remember and cherish most are the friendships and experiences shared together as one community, one state and one family.
The grass isn’t always green in Minnesota. But when it comes to hockey, it doesn’t get any better than this.