The Minnesota Wild got it right – Minnesota really is the State of Hockey. The impact that Minnesota has had on the sport of pucks, ice and Zambonis throughout the nation is staggering. One look at the numbers proves it.
From our calculations, nearly 2,200 Minnesota natives played hockey at the pro, college or junior level in North America during the 2018-19 season.
For the current hockey season, 58 Minnesotans played at least one game in the National Hockey League, while 49 suited up in the American Hockey League. Another 47 have played in one of the other minor hockey leagues in North America. Certainly not to be overlooked are the 32 women who played professional hockey in either the NWHL or CWHL, bringing the total number of Minnesota natives playing pro hockey in North America to 186.
College hockey leagues saw 930 men and women from Minnesota suit up for their respective school, including 356 in NCAA Division I and 574 in NCAA Division III. In college hockey this season were a host of accomplished Minnesotans, including a Hobey Baker finalist, two Mike Richter Award finalists, one Patty Kazmaier finalist and 15 All-Americans.
Finally, the numerous junior hockey leagues in the U.S. and Canada boasted 482 Minnesota natives on their rosters.
Team accomplishments are no less impressive. In fact, since 2000, all but one men’s and women’s NCAA championship team has had a Minnesota native on its roster. Only the 2014-15 Providence College men’s team was devoid of Minnesotans. This season, 26 Minnesotans were crowned NCAA champions when UMD won the Division I men’s championship, Wisconsin won the Division I women’s title and Wisconsin-Stevens Point claimed the Division III men's crown.
But who among all of those players were the best this season? What players from the State of Hockey shone brightest on the pro, college and junior hockey stage this season? That’s what we set out to determine. Chosen by members of Let’s Play Hockey, we present the inaugural Team Minnesota.