Hometown Heroes...Minnesota

The state of Minnesota is known for having one of the richest hockey cultures in the United States.

Roughly 60,000 amateur hockey players, coaches and officials reside in Minnesota, and many of them naturally refer to hockey as the “state sport”.

While the number of non-professionals continues to grow, the state’s hockey tradition is legitimized my decades of professional and NCAA success.

In terms of pro hockey, the state was home to the Minnesota North Stars, a club that joined the NHL as an expansion team with five other organizations in 1967. The North Stars played 26 seasons in the NHL, an era that saw 16 playoff appearances and two trips to the Stanley Cup Finals.

They played their home games at the Met Center in Bloomington, MN, the hometown of one of Cleveland’s most prolific Lake Erie Monsters of all time, Ryan Stoa.

The Minnesota North Stars relocated to Dallas, TX in the fall of 1993, and today are still prominent as the Dallas Stars.

In 2000, NHL hockey returned to Minnesota when St. Paul became the home of the Minnesota Wild. The Wild play their home games at the Xcel Energy Center, the home of this summer’s NHL Entry Draft.

The Wild’s AHL affiliate is the Houston Aeros, a fellow Western Conference competitor which the Monsters played four times last season (2-2-0-0).

While professional hockey has attracted thousands of fans throughout Minnesota, collegiate hockey in the state has developed many fine professionals. The University of Minnesota has one of the most prestigious NCAA hockey programs in the nation. Decorated with five national championships (1974, 1976, 1979, 2002 and 2003), the Golden Gophers are considered a dynasty in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).

Three players who skated with the Monsters during the 2010-11 season – Stoa, Mike Carman and Jacob Cepis – each spent at least parts of their collegiate playing days at the University of Minnesota.

Carman, who set a franchise record for shorthanded goals in a single season (6) during the 2010-11 campaign, is also a Minnesota native, as he hails from Apple Valley.


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