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Summer with Stanley

Oshie to bring Stanley Cup to Hockeytown USA

First player to win NHL championship from Warroad, Minnesota

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

WARROAD, Minn. -- Fishing, boating, camping and golfing dominate the long summer days here on the southwest shore of Lake of the Woods.


[RELATED: Complete Summer With Stanley coverage]


But at Olympic Arena, one of two arenas in Warroad, there is ice, and right before sunset on a Sunday, 11 kids, ranging in age from 4-18, are skating and sharing a couple of pucks.

When there are no scheduled games or practices, The Gardens and Olympic Arena, side-by-side on Elk Street, are open. All are welcome, even if you've been wearing sunscreen all day.

This is the Warroad way. 

With a population of 1,794 and sitting six miles south of the Canadian border, this northern Minnesota town is home to Marvin Windows and Doors, the anchor business that employs approximately 2,000 workers.

But Warroad is also a hockey factory, having proclaimed itself Hockeytown USA in 1958, long before Detroit ever thought of it as a slogan for the Red Wings.

Now, the Stanley Cup is coming to town on Tuesday, brought by Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie for a whirlwind morning visit to the place where his hockey skills were honed.

"The Cup in town, it's going to be huge," said Jay Hardwick, coach of the boys hockey team at Warroad High School. "Earlier this year, Gigi [Marvin] was here to celebrate with her gold medal. And that was huge.

"The Stanley Cup is kind of the one thing we've been missing. The town, through all its players, has accomplished just about everything and now the Stanley Cup is the cherry on top. It's going to be awesome."

Warroad players have done it all, but Oshie, 31, is the first to win the Stanley Cup.

The town has produced the famous Christian brothers, Bill, Roger and Dave, each of whom won an Olympic gold medal; Bill and Roger at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics and Dave at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.

Marvin won her gold with the United States women's team at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

The town boasts five members of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, including all three Christian brothers, as well as player Henry Boucha, and builder Cal Marvin, Gigi's grandfather.

Dave Christian (1980-94), Al Hangsleben (1979-82), Boucha (1972-76), Chad Erickson (1992), Wyatt Smith (2000-08), Oshie (2008-present) and Brock Nelson (2013-present) are the Warroad products to play in the NHL.

Oshie, who had 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games during Washington's run to its first championship, will bring the Cup to The Gardens for a viewing and presentation, which will include photos with each of the Warroad youth hockey teams in attendance, and a special honor song to be played by the Warroad Parent Indian Education Department. Following a Cup tour through downtown and a drive out to Warroad's Point Park near the lake, Oshie plans to head back to the airport in the early afternoon and return with the Cup to his St. Paul home for the rest of the day.

Video: T.J. Oshie's 2017-18 season in review

The Cup's visit to Warroad is the final check for the remote town's sizeable list of accomplishments.

"It's an incredible tiny spot, a town of 1,700, now four gold medalists now, Olympic silvers, now a Stanley Cup, and tons of players, like 80-90 who have played (NCAA) D-I and girls D-I programs now, too, probably 15-20 women who have already played college hockey," Gigi Marvin said. "And all the state tournaments and titles that have been won.

"It's a testament to our culture and our people. My grandpa started a program with some of his friends, and his policy was always open door and let the kids skate for free. If not for their incredible generosity, and there were some important donors early on, we would never (have) had skating for free and as much as we want. Nowhere else can you find that."

Michael Tveit, president of Warroad Youth Hockey, says there is an immense gratitude for Cal Marvin and his generation, who laid the town's hockey foundation.

Marvin, known here as "Mr. Hockey," died Sept. 5, 2004, at age 80.

"Cal Marvin kind of started the whole thing, got hockey going here," Tveit said. "A lot of our old-timers that had the success when they played, they saw the future and the dedication that was already here, and they started building the hockey program. We had a good pyramid started and they kept building from the youth, the kids, all the way up and kept pushing every day.

"They gave kids the opportunity to skate any time they wanted. They can work on their game dang near 24-7 around here."

Cary Eades, coach of Fargo of the United States Hockey League, coached the Warroad High School boys hockey team from 1993-2004 (11 seasons), winning three Minnesota State Class A championships and seven Section 8A championships.

He was the coach when Oshie moved to Warroad from Stanwood, Washington, at the age of 15 in 2002. Oshie's father Tim was born in Warroad and still had relatives in the area, including his cousin, Henry Boucha. The goal, obviously accomplished, was a total hockey immersion.

"First and foremost, hockey is a culture there," Eades said. "It's as Canadian a city as I've ever lived in south of the border, as far as hockey being important and living it 24/7.

"And it's about ice availability, not only with structured practices and games but free and open ice. Definitely that has made a huge impact on T.J. Oshie's career. There is extra ice time to have fun and work on skills and learn the game and do it all without pressure and constant guidelines."

The ice that remains in Olympic Arena after Gigi Marvin's RinkRat19 hockey school, which ended its two-week run on July 19, will remain in use until it is removed next week for the rest of the summer.

It will be back soon enough, though, and once again in demand.

"I remember skating seven hours straight on a Saturday just because I could," Marvin said. "You'd only come off the ice when your parents brought your lunch and dinner to the rink. That's just the culture here. Everyone loves to skate and it's a different kind of kid, kind of player, that comes from Warroad, Minnesota. I believe they have a lot of on-ice, natural awareness because of all that time."

That was Oshie's trajectory, his day-to-day routine, while he lived and played here. He won the state championship twice, in 2003 and 2005.

Tveit, who was a senior and captain on the 2003 team when Oshie was a sophomore, believes the presence of the Stanley Cup on Tuesday will provide an even stronger outlook for Warroad's future.

"Kids, their faces light up when they see Gigi or T.J.," he said. "Because they are idols to those kids. Our kids, if they want to push themselves to be the best, they can see the rewards that two people out of the same class are having."

Oshie won the state title in 2005 alongside Kyle Hardwick, whose older brother, Jay, is preparing for his seventh season as Warroad's coach.

"All the young kids strive to one day wear that Warriors jersey, and I don't think it's changed at all," Jay Hardwick said. "I'm sure when T.J. was in high school, all the young kids looked up to him and it just keeps going.

"I think it's good for the kids. Growing up in a community like this, they see T.J. win the Stanley Cup and they see people going to the Olympics and win gold medals and they think, 'I can do that, too.'

"But there's a long, storied legacy that you have to try to live up to here. I don't think it's any more pressure. But it's kind of the Warroad way, the way we've always done things."

The Warroad way will have the ultimate celebration Tuesday.

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