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Hockey Day Minnesota 2019: Bemidji makes history

The 13th annual event will be remembered for far more than its frigid temperatures

by Dan Myers @MNWildScribe /

BEMIDJI -- History will look back kindly on Hockey Day Minnesota's visit to Beltrami County. That's because the 13th annual event presented by Wells Fargo didn't just make history ... it shattered it.

But what do you expect when you come to the 218 in the middle of January?

Hockey Day 2019 officially got underway on Saturday with a matchup of top-ranked teams in Class AA, with No. 1 Minnetonka taking on No. 2 Andover. When the frozen puck was dropped shortly after 9:30 a.m., the temperature next to Lake Bemidji was 26 degrees below zero. 

Tweet from @HockeyDayMN: Few snaps 📸 from game 1������. Stayed tuned for more from #HDM2019 pres. by @WellsFargo.

By nine degrees, Bemidji's Hockey Day was the coldest on record, besting -- besting? -- Baudette Bay's minus-17 in 2008. 

Take away that question mark.

Every Hockey Day celebration gets better and better, and despite the frigid temperatures, Bemidji showed what it means to be a hearty Minnesotan. 

[RELATED: More from Hockey Day in Bemidji and beyond]

Just a stone's throw from the rink on the south shore of the lake was a small community of ice houses, a place for frozen folks to retreat between games for a brief warmup and perhaps a beverage. 

But instead of remaining in the warmth of their shelters, Bemidjians threw on the cold weather gear, trudged back up the beach and cheered hard for the next game. 

The celebration of the sport began unofficially on Thursday and continued Friday night with the first men's college hockey game played during the weekend. 

In what was the perfect beginning, Bemidji's own Dillon Eichstadt scored the walk-off winner in overtime to lift the hometown Bemidji State Beavers over the Michigan Tech Huskies. 

The Skippers and Huskies -- Andover this time -- kept the party going Saturday morning, battling into the third period separated by just one goal. In addition to ringing the opening bell for Hockey Day, the two provided fans a potential glimpse into what a state championship game could look like in March. 

That one would take place in the comfortable confines of Xcel Energy Center.

Video: Outdoor College Hockey in Bemidji

In what has become a fantastic Hockey Day tradition, the women's college game didn't disappoint either.

After regulation, an overtime and a multi-round shootout decided last year's women's game in St. Cloud, Bemidji State and Minnesota State engaged in another hard-fought, close game until the end, with the visiting Mavericks coming out on top.

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It was the only time Bemidji's local team came up short.

Tweet from @HockeyDayMN: Here���s a look back in photos at game 2������ of #HDM2019 pres. by @WellsFargo.

In the Saturday finale, the Bemidji High School boys scored one goal in each period en route to a 3-zip win over Greenway in front of an overflow crowd.

Have a game, Wyatt Halvorson, who will remember this day for the rest of his life. Halvorson scored all three goals for the Lumberjacks, who capped the day's events in fantastic fashion.

Tweet from @HockeyDayMN: The hometown Lumberjacks blanked the Greenway Raiders in the outdoor finale of #HDM2019 pres. by @WellsFargo.

With Bemidji's day in the sun now complete, attention turns to the 14th event, which heads back south and returns to the Twin Cities for the first time since 2017, when the event was in Stillwater.

Minneapolis, you're next -- and you've got big shoes to fill.


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