A tradition that began in 2007 resumes today in the State of Hockey. Hockey Day Minnesota normally includes at least two high school games played outdoors and two evening games involving the Minnesota Golden Gophers in one and the Minnesota Wild in the other.
Hockey Day Minnesota-2013 will begin at 10:00 AM at a rink erected on Itasca County's Pokegama Lake. In the first game, the Eagan Wildcats, participants in three boys state tournaments, will take on traditional Iron Range Conference power, the Hibbing Blue Jackets. Following that game, defending boys state Class AA champion Benilde St. Margaret's will face off against the host team, Grand Rapids. The high school action on Pokegama Lake will conclude with a girls game between Grand Rapids and Hibbing.
Hockey Day Minnesota will then move to Minneapolis where the Golden Gophers will seek to sweep the University of North Dakota in the last series these two longtime archrivals will play against one another as conference opponents. The Gophers won Friday night's opening game 5-1. This evening's rematch is scheduled to face off at 5:00 PM.
The Gophers and North Dakota will each be leaving the WCHA at the end of the 2012-2013 season and joining different conferences; the Gophers will join the Big Ten hockey conference and North Dakota will join the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. The two schools will not play each other in a regular season series for at least the next three seasons. The good news for fans of the rivalry is that these two schools tend to find each other fairly often in the NCAA tournament.
Hockey Day Minnesota will wrap up with the Minnesota Wild facing off against the Colorado Avalanche at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The game will be the season opener for both teams as the lockout-shortened, 48-game 2013 NHL regular season gets underway.
The Wild, of course, injected a lot of talent into their lineup during the off-season and while some fans of the team may have been turned off by the long and unnecessary lockout, judging from attendance at Wednesday night's intra-squad scrimmage, many more are excited to see how the new look Wild will fare.
All of the Hockey Day Minnesota featured games will be televised locally on Fox Sports North. The girls game between Hibbing and Grand Rapids will be shown after the conclusion of the Wild vs. Avalanche game.
Enjoy Hockey Day Minnesota hockey fans!