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State of Hockey Spotlight: St.Michael-Albertville Youth Hockey Association

10/12/2015, 4:15pm CDT
By Miinnesota Hockey Journal

Get to know St. Michael-Albertville and North Wright County hockey associations.

Nickname: Knights (Boys), River Hawks (Girls)

District: 5

Home Ice: St. Michael/Albertville Arena

2014-15 Registration Numbers: 456 (14% growth from 2013-14)

President: Josh Opiola


Why They’re Awesome
The association’s single rink provides ice time for more than 500 STMA hockey players. They are part of the largest hockey association in the state that shares just one sheet.


Registration Highlights
According to association president Josh Opiola: “Our girls program exploded last year! We added 29 new girl skaters to the program. The previous year we only added eight; that’s massive growth in new girl skaters! Also instead of having three 8U teams, it looks like we will have four this year.”

Commitment to Growth
STMA-NWC score high on their recruitment grades. How can you pass up this deal? First-year Mites can sign up for two seasons for a total of $100. If you don’t participate in the second season, you get a full refund.

And on top of that, free equipment is available for first-time players.


Commitment to Development
To feed the passion and demand for hockey, STMA and NWC volunteers spearheaded a new dryland facility for its members last year. The facility, in conjunction with Acceleration Minnesota, is available for players and teams to work on their strength and skills year round. It includes a skating treadmill, shooting area and turf room for plyometrics and other conditioning – all key components to long-term athlete development.


On-Ice Success
Who says big schools get to have all the fun? The 2013 STMA Peewee AA team battled its way through the postseason and into the Minnesota Hockey State Tournament. The squad took down Minnetonka, 4-3, to advance to the semifinals. A narrow 3-2 score ended STMA’s run, but not bad for a state tournament appearance!

On the girls’ side, 2004-05 marks the first season for a state tournament appearance. The 14U A team made its postseason entrance in Bemidji under the name East Wright County Lightning. Six years later, in 2011, the 14U A team captured the title, this time as the current North Wright County River Hawks. 

Hockeyville USA

STMA made a postseason push off the ice last year, vying to be top dog in the Kraft Hockeyville competition. They were one of 1,400 communities across the nation to be nominated. With the help of the community, and the State of Hockey, STMA managed to make it into the final four, earning $40,000 in the process. The Kraft Hockeyville donation will be put toward adding a second sheet to be added to the St. Michael/Albertville Arena arena, located in downtown Albertville.



Opiola says the association’s growth and success would not be possible without the hard work and commitment of the coaches and volunteers.

“We have tremendous coaches and volunteers that always go above and beyond,” he said.

The same commitment has been seen by the cities of St. Michael and Albertville. Due the recent growth of the association, ice time on the single sheet is becoming limited. Together, the cities have been working together to seek a viable solution, the Kraft Hockeyville donation being the first assistance.

“The support from both cities to gain a second sheet has been great,” said Opiola. “Because of that teamwork we are very, very close!”

Tag(s): Home  October 2015