Austin and Bloomington are two of 10 finalists in the 2017 Kraft Hockeyville competition to find America’s most passionate hockey community.
The first round of voting opened Tuesday, April 11 and will end at 10:59 p.m. on Thursday, April 13. The winning community will have the honor of hosting a 2017 NHL preseason game in their arena and $150,000 toward upgrading their local rink, courtesy of Kraft.
The Austin Packers call Riverside Arena their home, where the numbers of new players has exploded in recent years. With 52 Eight-andUnder players just three years ago, that number shot up to 72 last year, as the popularity of hockey in Southern Minnesota has seen a resurgence. Riverside Arena opened in 1973, and has seen some of Southern Minnesota’s best hockey players skate on its ice, including current St. Cloud State Huskies head coach, Bob Motzko.
Players in the Bloomington Jefferson, Bloomington Kennedy/Richfield and Bloomington Girls Youth Hockey organizations play at Bloomington Ice Garden, which was built in 1970 and is affectionately known as “BIG.” With three youth organizations hosting numerous games and tournaments, Bloomington Ice Garden is one of the busiest ice arenas in the State of Hockey. It has served as home to some of the best high school teams and best players the United States has ever produced, including current Minnesota Wild star, Zach Parise. “BIG” was also the training home of the 1980 United States “Miracle on Ice” team, which was coached by the legendary Herb Brooks and won the gold medal in Lake Placid.
“We are very excited to see two more Minnesota communities named Kraft Hockeyville finalists,” said Minnesota Hockey President, Dave Margenau. “Both Austin and Bloomington are great examples of local hockey associations working closely with their communities to provide a safe and fun place for boys and girls of all ages to play hockey. Both of these communities and arenas are very deserving of this honor, and I hope the entire State of Hockey works to get Austin and Bloomington into the next round.”
Read more at Minnesotahockey.org