For those of you who have never had occasion to wander the upper concourse of the Xcel Energy Center, let me be perhaps the first to introduce you to a photo mural (c. Sections 228/229) of some of the great arenas, or “barns” as the old-timers like to call them, in our State of Hockey. The walls of these buildings echo with the sounds of games and ghosts of players of the past, which give our game the flavor, it has in Minnesota.
So where do we start? Up north at Eveleth, of course. Eveleth Hippodrome
Just the name evokes memories of Brimsek, Mariucci and Mayasich, who got their illustrious careers started on the Hippodrome’s ice. In 1920, Mayor Vic Essling put the tiny Iron Range mining community on the map by bringing in a team of imported Canadians to compete in the major league United States Amateur Hockey Association (USAHA). Minneapolis native Cliff Thompson soon followed in 1925 and established the Eveleth hockey factory. The Hipp opened on January 1, 1922 and has played host to teams at the major league amateur, minor pro, senior amateur, and high school level as well as serving youth hockey. It seats 3,000 and is still in use.
Twenty miles to the west of Eveleth is the Hibbing Memorial Building which was built in 1934 and Soon thereafter became the training site of the Chicago Blackhawks. Hibbing Memorial Arena
Between its opening and 1944, the Hawks prepared for their coming season on six occasions. No, this was not the Chicago entry of Hull and Mikita, but one with Minnesota content: “Cully” Dahlstrom (Minneapolis), Virgil Johnson (Minneapolis), Mike Karakas (Eveleth), John Mariucci (Eveleth), and “Doc” Romnes (White Bear Lake/St. Paul). The Hibbing Bluejackets, who took the state championship in 1973, still call it home and can play before capacity crowds of c. 4,500 (1,000 standing).
Up in the Northwest corner of the state sits legendary Roseau and its Memorial Arena, the site of umpteen battles between the local Rams and the arch rival Warriors from Warroad, the real Hockeytown USA. Roseau Memorial Arena
Built in 1949, the Memorial can accommodate 2,500 folks who have seen the Rams capture seven state high school boy’s titles since 1946 while producing outstanding players like Don Ross and the Broten clan of Neal, Aaron, and Paul. A mere 13 miles east of the North Dakota border you’ll find Hallock, the scene of some very early hockey in Minnesota, i.e.: March 4, 1895. The Hallock arena in the Xcel Energy Center mural served the Hallock/Kitson County area between 1934-75. The current arena opened in 1974.
If one moves east to the jewel of the north in Duluth, you’ll be in the home of the Duluth Curling Club.The Duluth Curling Club
Motoring northeast on Superior Street and then on to London Road, a bit beyond the historic Kitchi Gammi Club, there once stood the majestic looking Curling Club. By all reports it looked better on the outside than on the inside.
Curling competitions took place on the lower level, while hockey was played one flight up. The Curling Club dated to the early days of the last century and hosted Duluth’s major league amateur, minor pro, senior amateur, and college teams. The college was, of course, the UMD Bulldogs who called it home until 1966. The building has been subsequently torn down.
Our tour of the “barns” continues in the next edition of the program as we head south to those places “Where memories never fade of flying puck and flashing blade.”