March 15: Cottage Grove, MN
March 8: Owatonna, MN
March 1: St. Cloud, MN
Feb. 22: Moorhead, MN
Feb. 15: Mankato, MN
Welcome to the Minnesota National Guard Hockey Town of the Week. Each week, fans can vote to decide which Minnesota hockey town is the best out of three options. The winning town will be featured on Wild.com for the week ahead. Last week's winner was Cottage Grove, Minnesota. Park Cottage Grove Bantam A is ranked #8 in the state and former Golden Gophers winger Jay Moser was born in Cottage Grove.
This week's choice is among Inver Grove Heights, Albert Lea and Willmar.
With a population of 34,344, Inver Grove Heights is a south suburban city sandwiched between Eagan and Cottage Grove. Inver Grove Heights is home to Simley High School, whose boys team went to the MSHSL State Tournament in 1996 and 2003. Last September, the Stanley Cup made a visit to Inver Grove Heights when Scott Bell, a Pittsburgh Penguins scout, brought the Cup back to Simley, his alma mater.
Albert Lea sits near the Iowa border along I-35; 17,871 Minnesotans call it home. A National American Hockey League junior franchise, the Albert Lea Thunder, used to compete in the city, but the franchise relocated to Amarillo, Texas. The Albert Lea Tigers' boys team has made three total MSHSL State Tournament appearances.
Willmar is northwest of the Twin Cities and home to 19,680 people. Willmar Senior High School's girls team made back-to-back MSHSL State Tournament appearances in 2002 and 2003. Willmar is also home to the Willmar WarHawks, a North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) team that plays its home games at the Willmar Civic Center.