Duluth East's Dave Spehar recorded three hat tricks at the 1995 Class AA state tournament. Let's Play Hockey photo by Mike Thill
Herb Brooks said it best, “Great moments are born from great opportunities.”
And that is what we have each and every high school season here in the State of Hockey.
For the past 75 years, ever since John Mayasich and his team from Eveleth won the inaugural boys’ hockey state tournament in 1943, each season is looked at with great anticipation for hockey fans young and old.
Minnesota has a storied history when it comes to the game of hockey. From the North Stars to the Fighting Saints to the Wild, hockey fans have seen the best players in the world skate on Minnesota ice.
But nothing compares to the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament where more than 125,000 people will pile into the Xcel Energy Center this March to witness this year’s very best players and teams. It is a tradition like no other, where young boys playing on backyard rinks and neighborhood ponds one day dream of playing at coveted “state.”
Each and every year that dream comes true for certain players. Each and every year also brings the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat for those players striving to reach their ultimate goal. And that is what makes hockey such a great sport to play and watch. The tireless work that goes into each and every practice as teams converge on section playoffs where every shift, every shot and every play is magnified.
Here, in the State of Hockey, we play against each other, yet we are all working toward the same goal. Something unique. Something treasured. Something special.
When the boys hit the ice last week for practice, it marked the 75th season of hundreds of teams around the state vying for one common goal. Through the past 74 years, we have witnessed great players, great teams and great moments.
And it’s all because of one great opportunity: to play the game they love with the guys they love.
What great moments will we see on the ice this year? The next five months will tell the tale, and it’s a story that every player wants to be a part of.
We are committed to telling it every week, from our team previews in this week’s issue, up through the two teams who will hoist the trophy at the end of the year.
They storylines are sure to be plentiful again this season. Can Minnetonka become the first back-to-back Class AA champion since Edina won in 2013 and 2014? Will an upstart like Andover or Chaska make a magical run to St. Paul, or will a blue blood like Edina or Duluth East tell the state to eat cake?
And how about Hermantown? Can the Hawks regain their spot atop the Class A field (and is this the final season in the small-school division for the Northern Minnesota powerhouse)? If not the Hawks, who will reign supreme in Class A? Can Greenway knock off Hermantown to advance to St. Paul for the first time since 2001? Or will a Central Minnesota school like St. Cloud Cathedral or Alexandria own the spotlight in 2019?
Individually, who will be the next Dave Spehar or Grant Besse? Will it be Duluth East riding Ryder Donovan to the promised land? Can Mike Koster take and his band of fellow Division I commits take Chaska to the tourney for the first time? Will another in the long line of Brodzinski hockey players – this time Bryce – lead Blaine to the X? Or will it be a Langenbrunner – this time Landon – that gives Cloquet a taste of glory?
Stay tuned. There is lot more to come.
Now, Let’s… Play… Hockey!
Benilde-St. Margaret's forward Grant Besse scored five goals in the 2012 Class state championship game. Let's Play Hockey photo by Mike Thill