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Stadium Series

Soul Asylum singer indulging two passions

Stadium Series set allows Pirner to combine hockey, music

by Bill Price @BillPriceNHL / Editor in Chief

MINNEAPOLIS -- Dave Pirner knew his dream of being a professional hockey player was over during his junior year in high school.

Before becoming the lead singer for Grammy Award-winning rock band Soul Asylum, he was a left wing for West High School in Minneapolis with hopes of becoming the next J.P. Parise. But that all ended when he got his first look a look at younger teammate, future NHL player Tom Chorske.

"It was getting really serious. I had a pretty good run as a really young kid," Pirner said. "I was just sort of big enough and I could skate well enough to do pretty good. When Tommy Chorske came skating out on the ice, that's when I knew it was over for me. He's just so good. I was like, 'I'm out.'"

Pirner hung up his skates before his senior year of high school and shifted his focus to music.

His passion for hockey and music will come full circle for him Sunday when Soul Asylum plays a pregame set at the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game (3:30 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN) between the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

Recent Rock & Rock Hall of Fame inductees Cheap Trick will perform during the first intermission. The University of Minnesota band will play during player introductions and singer/songwriter Jazmine Sullivan will sing the U.S. national anthem.

"It's cool. I mean, I'm really excited about it," said Pirner, whose band rose to stardom with their triple-platinum 1992 album "Grave Dancers Union," which featured top-10 singles "Somebody to Shove" and "Runaway Train," the latter of which earned Soul Asylum the 1994 Grammy for Best Rock Song. "I grew up watching the North Stars. I grew up playing hockey outside. When I heard about this game I thought, 'I would like to go to the game anyway.' It's fun to be part of the deal."

Like most Minnesota youngsters, Pirner got an early introduction to hockey.

"My mom had me out on skates as soon as I could stand," he said. "I guess my parents just thought that's what you do and that's what they did. There are 10,000 lakes [in Minnesota]. You have to know how to swim them and skate them.

And Pirner did skate them, playing pond hockey until he reached junior high when he dreamed of a career on the ice, not the stage.
"I wanted to be J.P. Parise when I was a kid. He was my hero," said Pirner, who wore No. 11 in high school in honor of the former North Stars forward, who died Jan. 7, 2015.

This is not the first time Pirner's love of hockey and his music career have intersected. In the video for their 1994 song "Can't Even Tell," which was released on the soundtrack for the movie "Clerks," Pirner and bandmates play a game of street hockey against the film's cast members on the roof of the Quick Stop convenience store at the heart of the movie.

Pirner, whose band will release its 11th studio album March 18, has lived in New Orleans for more than a decade so playing at the Stadium Series game also gave him a chance to come home.

"I've been living in New Orleans for 15 years; they don't have ice anywhere," said Pirner, who attended his first Wild game this week. "So it's kind of nice to be back in Minneapolis and re-experience the things I've missed about growing up."

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