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Looking Back: Five Moments from Hockey Day Minnesota

With Hockey Day Minnesota now more than a decade old, here are five memories that captured the attention of Minnesota hockey fans

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com

ST. PAUL -- Hockey Day Minnesota has become a day on the calendar that fans of the sport from all around the state look forward to. 

As one of the state's premier celebrations of the game, here are five memories from the last decade that fans will be talking about for years to come:


1. Baudette Bay, 2008

The day's prep highlight game featured Blaine and Roseau in a contest that almost never happened. It was so cold that day on Baudette Bay (minus-17 degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill factors in the minus-45 range) that they nearly cancelled the festivities.

Good thing they didn't.

Nick Bjugstad and the Blaine Bengals played Roseau in a classic match-up that featured goaltender Mike Lee and eventual Mr. Hockey winner Aaron Ness.

The game was scoreless heading to overtime before Roseau scored in the extra session to send the locals home happy with a 1-0 victory.

The game featured a pair of players who would go on to the NHL, with Bjugstad skating for the Florida Panthers and Ness with the New York Islanders.

It was the first of two meetings between the Rams and Bengals that season. The two clubs met again in the Minnesota State High School League Tournament in March, with Roseau winning again by an 8-2 margin.


2. Hermantown, 2010

A perennial contender in Class A, Hermantown squared off with metro power forward Kyle Rau and his Eden Prairie Eagles.

The matchup was a big deal for those in Hermantown, a small town just west of Duluth. It was an opportunity to show a statewide audience that it could stick with one of the biggest -- and best -- teams in Minnesota.

Warm temperatures slowed playing conditions, which in the end may have helped the Hawks. Eden Prairie won the close game 4-3 while Hermantown went on to its first of six consecutive runner-up finishes at the Minnesota State High School League Tournament a few weeks later.


3. Grand Rapids, 2013

Playing in front of a packed house on Lake Pokegama, the host Thunderhawks won an overtime thriller over eventual state champion Benilde St. Margaret's on a goal by forward Avery Peterson.

Later that summer, Peterson would be drafted by the Wild in the sixth round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

The date in 2013 was also memorable as the first Hockey Day to coincide with the Wild's opening night. Following a lockout that shortened the regular season to just 48 games, the Wild went on to defeat Colorado 3-2 in overtime, a contest that marked the first game of the Zach Parise-Ryan Suter era in Minnesota.


4. Elk River, 2014

In perhaps its most iconic setting yet, Hockey Day in 2014 was held inside Handke Pit, a place where a handful of current and former NHLers have gotten their starts on the ice.

The date was memorable for several reasons, foremost of all that it was the first time Hockey Day Minnesota was broadcast to a national audience on Fox Sports 2. The host Elks defeated Stillwater 4-1 before the Wild and Dallas Stars engaged in a classic down Interstate 94 in St. Paul.

Tied 2-2 in overtime, it was Elk River native Nate Prosser, who himself had spent countless hours playing at Handke Pit, who scored the winning goal in the extra session, lifting the Wild to a 3-2 victory. 

Prosser has scored five goals in the NHL, but the one that lifted Minnesota to a victory on a day that highlighted the hockey culture in his hometown is perhaps his most memorable.


5. St. Paul, 2015

Held at Holman Field, Hockey Day 2015 was the first time hockey has been played on an active airport tarmac. Next to the rink was a pair of VH-60 Blackhawks, a CH-47 Chinook and a C1-30 aircraft.

Keeping with the military theme, Fox Sports North broadcasted live from Kuwait during the festivities in support of Serving Our Troops and the Minnesota National Guard.

With then-Wild coach Mike Yeo in attendance -- watching his son Kyler, a sophomore at Hill-Murray -- the Pioneers defeated St. Thomas Academy 3-2 in overtime.

A few hours later, with Mike Yeo behind the bench at Xcel Energy Center, the Wild beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 in what was goaltender Devan Dubnyk's home debut in a Wild uniform.

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