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In the State of Hockey It Takes 4 Days to Celebrate the Game Properly

@HockeyDayMN Twitter Photo


By Scott Lowe -

If you happened to spend even 30 seconds scanning social media this weekend you know that Saturday was Hockey Day Minnesota. But the truth is that the sport is so popular in Minnesota it actually takes four days to celebrate Hockey Day.

Some of us may have thought that every day between November and March is hockey day in what has become known as the State of Hockey. 


Well, maybe, but not really.

Hockey Day Minnesota is a special day in the middle of a special weekend. It’s a big deal, with pretty much every person at every age who has, will or does play hockey at any level participating in some type of hockey-related activities (yes, plural) between Thursday and Sunday.

Whether you were playing in a game, attending a clinic, shuttling your kids to and from their games and other activities, watching a game featuring two top-ranked high schools  or colleges or heading to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul to see the Minnesota Wild play, it’s a pretty good bet that if you were in Minnesota over the weekend, hockey was on your agenda.

To many, this might sound like a normal winter weekend in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Trust me, it’s not. 

White Bear Lake served as the official host of Hockey Day Minnesota 2023, and hosting the weekend’s festivities also is a big deal.

In July it was announced that Warroad, also known as “Hockey Town USA,” will host the 2024 event, and on Saturday Shakopee was tabbed to host Hockey Day Minnesota 2025. 

“Shakopee is honored and thrilled to showcase our charming city at Hockey Day Minnesota 2025,” Matthew Underwood, who will serve as the chair for Hockey Day Minnesota 2025, said.

Originated in 2007 by the Minnesota Wild to celebrate hockey throughout the state, Hockey Day Minnesota has evolved over the years and now is coordinated in partnership with regional-sports network Bally Sports North. Bally Sports North dedicates an entire day of television coverage to the event, which also has been held in Baudette Bay (2007, 2008), Phalen Park (2009), Hermantown (2010), Moorhead (2011), Minnetonka (2012), Grand Rapids (2013), Elk River (2014), Saint Paul (2015), Duluth (2016), Stillwater (2017), St. Cloud (2018), Bemidji (2019), Minneapolis (2020), Guidant John Rose MN Oval (2021) and Mankato (2022).

For Hockey Day 2023, activities were scheduled at Polar Lakes Park in White Bear beginning on Thursday evening and extending all the way through Sunday at a venue that must be similar to what heaven looks like for a hockey fan. The host site included an outdoor rink surrounded by bleacher seating and heated trailers to serve as team locker rooms and dressing areas. There also was a Warming House and “town square” that served as a social hub for the weekend, vendor areas, a VIP tent, hospitality suites, a pub, a coffee shop and food trucks.

Thursday’s opening ceremonies were followed by a girls’ high-school matchup between Forest Lake and Cretin-Derham Hall. Forest Lake scored first in the contest but succumbed to four-straight Cretin-Durham goals in what turned out to be a 4-1 loss. The high-school contest was followed by a celebrity game that included former Wild players while a band entertained folks in the Warming House from 7:30 until 10:30 p.m.

Bright and early Friday the Warming House opened from 5 until 10 a.m. for the broadcast of local sports-radio station KFAN’s morning show while the ice was allowed to rest until 5:30 p.m.

Tabbed as “College Night,” Friday’s on-ice action got underway at 5:30 as NCAA Division III rivals St. John’s and Augsburg faced off in an overtime thriller. The first-ever Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game played on Hockey Day Minnesota ice ended in a 5-4 victory for St. John’s, which rallied to tie the game in the waning moments of regulation and won it on Jackson Sabo’s goal in extra time.

Once the ice was cleared and the celebration had subsided, a White Bear Lake alumni game was played while the live music continued in the Warning House.

Then it was Saturday. Hockey Day Minnesota 2023. The perfect day for hockey began promptly at 9:25 a.m. with the national anthem, setting the stage for three high-school games.

Game 1 was a girls’ matchup between Stillwater and White Bear Lake, with the hosts falling by an 8-3 tally thanks to four goals by Stillwater’s Brooke Nelson. Elaina Hosfield netted her first career varsity goal to give White Bear Lake an early 1-0 lead. Hunter Reardon knotted the score at 1 shortly thereafter, setting the stage for four-straight tallies by Nelson.

"I was just really excited for today," White Bear Lake forward Ava Johnson told Sydney Wolf of despite the loss. "It's a once-in-lifetime opportunity, so it was really fun."

Another Hockey Day hero emerged during the Game 2 boys’ contest as Hermantown’s Kade Kohanski recorded a hat trick and dished out an assist to lead the Hawks to a 6-3 win against Mahtomedi. Recovering from a broken wrist suffered earlier in the year, Kohanski had scored just once since returning to action earlier in January before Saturday’s breakout performance.

“I was patient and it felt good to be back after the injury; it’s kind of icing on the cake with the hat trick,” Kohanski told Jamie Malcomb of “It felt really good to score finally after coming back and being able to shoot.” 

And in a fitting end to the Hockey Day high-school action, the Hill-Murray boys rallied to tie the game with the goalie pulled late in regulation then beat host White Bear Lake, 3-2, on Brady Ingebritson’s overtime tally. Ingebritson also scored the tying goal.

“I’m at a loss for words,” he told the Pioneer Press. “To play in Hockey Day Minnesota against White Bear Lake. You couldn’t ask for much better than this.”

That wasn’t the end of the day’s fireworks, however, as a real pyrotechnic show lit up the White Bear Lake sky to close Saturday’s Hockey Day festivities. Meanwhile, DJ’s and live music continued to rock the Warming House well into the night. See a theme here?

Sunday at Polar Lakes Park was dubbed “Hockey Changes Lives Day.” 

Presented by the Hendrickson Foundation, Minnesota Warriors, Shine a Ligh7, United Heroes League and Sophie’s Squad, the day included an opening ceremony followed by games featuring the Minnesota Warriors, a hockey program established for charitable and educational purposes to benefit United States veterans who have been wounded, injured or otherwise disabled. It is the only USA Hockey Disabled Warrior program in Minnesota.

Following the Warriors’ games there was a sled-hockey exhibition, which preceded an open skate and ice time for the Herb Brooks Foundation, named in honor of the legendary gold-medal-winning coach and established with the mission of introducing, providing and maintaining a variety of hockey-related opportunities at no cost for our youth – while growing the game. 

The weekend’s on-ice activities wrapped up Sunday evening with a United Heroes League game. United Heroes League has provided more than $12 million worth of free sports equipment, game tickets, cash grants, skill-development camps and special experiences to military families all over North America. UHL keeps military kids active and healthy through sports while their parents serve and protect our country. The organization has helped more than 50,000 military families keep or start their kids in sports activities.

We often hear the words “Hockey is for Everyone” as part of a movement to break down barriers, promote diversity and provide hockey opportunities for those who might otherwise not be able to participate in the sport. In the State of Hockey, they go out of their way to make sure that Hockey Day Minnesota really can be enjoyed by everyone.

Hockey in Minnesota doesn’t shut down for anything, so while White Bear Lake was the state’s hub for the sport during this memorable weekend, as usual on any winter weekend, great hockey featuring participants of all ages continued to be played throughout the state – just like the Hockey Day Minnesota party continued all weekend in the Warming House.  

Fierce high-school rivalries were renewed, the Wild hosted the Sabres, the nation’s top college programs that call Minnesota home competed and youth players traveled to all corners of the state as district play continued and began to wind down.

It truly was a great four days for hockey!


Many of the weekend’s highlights can be relived via social media accounts such as @HockeyDayMN, @BallySportsNorth, @MNHockeyMag and @VintageMNHockey on Twitter as well as the official event website, and the official Hockey Day Minnesota Facebook and Instagram accounts.



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