The Pack Report

Why Minnesota is the State of Hockey

It is hardly a secret that Minnesota has long been the beating heart of USA Hockey with the game flourishing at all levels and has also been referred to as the State of Hockey. But where does that come from? What does it mean? Minnesota has such a rich history with the game of hockey, and we are going to dive into why Minnesota is the State of Hockey and why the game is loved and played by many.  

The University of Minnesota first organized a hockey team in 1895 and though unsanctioned by the University, they played a game against a team from Winnipeg on February 19, 1895. Around the turn of the century, indoor games began to pop up around Minnesota and slowly but surely, the landscape of Minnesota hockey began to take shape. When the North Stars left Minnesota in 1993, an empty space was left in the Minnesota hockey landscape. Thankfully, the NHL recognized the void that the North Stars left, and they awarded Minnesota an expansion in NHL franchise in 1997. The thought behind this was the NHL wanted to recapture the spirit of Minnesota’s apparent hockey passion to help increase the existing excitement of the NHL returning to Minnesota. From this, the “State of Hockey” was born. Interestingly, this was all a marketing scheme in the beginning, but it grew into so much more.  

There is quite frankly no other area of the country that displays its passion for hockey on such a broad platform as Minnesota does. It begins with youth hockey, from mini-mites to high school level and every other level in between. Minnesota’s high school hockey scene is a perfect example of the display of passion this state has for this beloved sport. Each year in March, fans congregate to the Xcel Energy Center for the state boys high school hockey tournament. The overall attendance at this year’s tournament was over 135,000 fans, hitting a new record. Furthermore, Minnesota is also a hotbed for college hockey, housing 5 division I hockey schools. Among them our personal favorite, the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs who hold 5 national championships. College hockey players continue to rise to the NHL at an increasingly large rate and many of those players are Minnesotans.  

Nowhere else within the U.S. border will you find a place where hockey is so deeply ingrained in the culture and traditions of the people who live here. I grew up with the notion that when the pond by my childhood home froze over, it was time to bundle up, grab some skates, and play some pond hockey. All around the state, from pond hockey games as a child to playing hockey professionally, one thing has always been true. Minnesotans eat, sleep, and breathe this game. This is why Minnesota is referred to as the “State of Hockey” today.  

Happy skating, friends!  

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