Today the NBC Sports Group is celebrating Hockey Day in America with an NHL quadrupleheader while featuring grassroots hockey stories from across the country.
Located less than a half hour from the Canadian border, and with a population of just under 1,800, Warroad, Minnesota is probably an easy town to miss unless you happen to be from there, or know somebody from there.
At first glance it would seem to be no different than any other small town in America.
But this isn’t just some random small town.
This small town has become such a hockey factory and developed such a rich history within the sport — at all levels — that it has been dubbed “Hockeytown, USA.”
And with all apologies to the folks in Detroit, it is not a moniker that is out of place.
For a town whose population has never topped the 2,000 mark since it was officially incorporated in 1901, it has been a significant power in the United States hockey community with a legacy that has produced five NHL players, seven Olympians, and more than 80 (men and women combined) Division I hockey players.
It’s also town that has become a dominant powerhouse in the Minnesota High School community with six state totals (four for the men’s team, two for the women’s team) over the past 20 years alone.
It’s a legacy that a lot of major metropolitan areas can not even compete with, and to get an understanding of how this small town can be such a hockey power it all starts with not only getting players started at a young age and developing a passion for the sport, but also making sure they have the ability to actually follow through with it.
Warroad is home to two major indoor ice rinks — including a 1,500 seat Olympic sized rink — both of which are proud to feature free ice-time for anybody who wants it, for as long as they want it. Kids can come as early as they want, stay as late as they want, and skate for as long as they want. One of the biggest obstacles in a lot of areas for kids when it comes to getting into the sport can be associated with ice time, whether it be the ice time itself, or the costs associated with getting it.
In Warroad, the mindset is to make sure they always have access to it.
One of the biggest driving forces behind hockey in Warroad over the years has been the Marvin Family, owners of the largest employer in Warroad (Marvin Windows and Doors), for contributing to the construction of the Warroad Gardens rink and helping to ensure that kids always have a place to skate. That commitment has helped drive a passion for hockey in the town that has helped it produce a lasting impact on the sport that has been felt locally (the dominant boys and girls high school programs), Internationally, and in the NHL.
One of Warroad’s most famous claims is that both of the gold medal winning teams in men’s hockey have included players from the town, all thanks to the Christian family. Roger and Bill Christian both played on the 1960 Squaw Valley team and went on to become members of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. Bill’s son, Dave Christian, was a key member of the 1980 Miracle On Ice team that upset the Soviet Union and then went on to beat Finland for the Gold Medal at Lake Placid. Following his Olympic success he went on to a 13-year career in the NHL.
On the women’s side, Gigi Marvin, the granddaughter of Cal Marvin, known locally as “the godfather of Warroad Hockey,” has been a spectacular ambassador for the sport both locally and nationally. She was an NCAA star at the University of Minnesota, was a member of the 2010 and 2014 women’s silver medal Olympic teams, is a four-time gold medalist at the World Championships, and currently a member of the NWHL’s Boston Pride where she was the league’s 2016 defensive player of the year and a 2017 All-Star.
Warroad’s NHL legacy began in 1971 with the debut of Henry Boucha, a silver medalist at the 1972 Olympics, and another member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. It’s legacy continued with Christian and Al Hanglesben in the 1980s, and still continues today with current NHL stars Brock Nelson (New York Islanders) and T.J. Oshie (Washington Capitals).
With such a rich history and contribution to hockey, and a passion to continue growing the sport, Warroad is sure to continue as one of America’s greatest hockey towns.
More on Warroad, Minnesota
Pat Quinn was finally appropriately honored for his contributions to hockey in 2016 with a posthumous induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
On Saturday night he was given another honor when the Canucks unveiled a statue of him outside of The Rogers Centre before their 2-1 win overtime win against the Calgary Flames.
Quinn, a player for nine years in the league and a long-time executive and coach, spent two of his seasons as a defenseman in Vancouver and then spent parts of five seasons behind the team’s bench between the 1990-91 and 1995-96 seasons.
He compiled a 141-111-28 record as the team’s coach, and led the team to the 1994 Stanley Cup Final.
Here is a look at the statue.
Along with his time as a coach, he also spent several years in the team’s front office and played a significant role in acquiring several key pieces of that 1994 team, including goaltender Kirk McLean by way of a trade with the New Jersey Devils, and then drafting Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure. The Bure pick was an especially shrewd move because it came in a year when most teams did not know he was eligible to be picked. Bure would go on to be one of the most exciting players in the league and one of the best Canucks ever.
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The San Jose Sharks were facing a team that had been playing well in an arena buzzing with energy following a pregame ceremony.
Once they handled the initial onrush, the Sharks struck first to subdue the crowd and their opponent.
“We kind of weathered their storm early; there was a lot of energy in the building,” Sharks center Joe Pavelski said. “We got to (Coyotes goalie Mike Smith) in the first period. When you get one or two on him early, it kind of breaks them down a little bit and play from behind. That was a big key.”
The Sharks bounced back from a slow start in their last game by scoring two goals in the first period and another early in the second to quiet a crowd energized by a ceremony honoring the first Coyotes team in the desert. Dell was sharp in his 11th start of the season, and the Pacific Division-leading Sharks were good in front of him to avoid a season sweep (1-3-1) by the last-place Coyotes.
Burns, of course, was at the center of the offense from the blue line.
The NHL’s third-leading scorer, he had a goal in the first period and his 27th of the season in the third to match the team record for goals by a defenseman that he set in 2015-16. It was his third two-goal game of the season and second in the last three games.
“He’s having an MVP season. He’s been that good for us all year and it’s every night,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. “I don’t know what else to say. In my mind, he’s the best player in the league right now.”
The Coyotes could not capitalize on a rowdy, sellout crowd. Arizona peppered Dell with 29 shots in the first two periods but didn’t score until Martin Hanzal punched in a rebound in the third, when they were down 3-0.
Hanzal scored his fifth goal in five games and Smith stopped 29 shots for Arizona.
“We were pretty good in the period and I don’t want to say they were lucky goals, but they scored first and after that, it’s hard to chase a team like the Sharks,” Hanzal said.
The Sharks trailed 3-1 in the first period and 6-3 in the third before rallying for a point against Florida on Wednesday. On Saturday, they took an early lead when Burns fired a shot through traffic to beat Smith to the stick side.
Karlsson made it 2-0 late in the period, keeping the puck on a 2-on-1 and wristing one past Smith on the stick side again.
San Jose kept the pressure up early in the second, making it a three-goal lead when Haley scored on a one-timer from between the circles for his first of the season.
Burns stopped Arizona’s momentum late in the period, wristing a shot that slipped through Smith’s pads on a power play.
“That wasn’t my best game. I thought our team did a good job tonight to give ourselves a chance to win,” Smith said. “They were opportunistic in the first period and we couldn’t capitalize on our chances and when that happens, you usually lose.”
NOTES: Along with honoring their 1996-97 team – the first after the franchise moved from Winnipeg – in a ceremony before the game, Arizona also announced its all-time starting six, which included current players Smith, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and captain Shane Doan. … Haley’s goal was his first since March 5, 2016 against Vancouver. … Hanzal moved past Pat Elynuik for 13th on the franchise list with his 116th career goal.
San Jose hosts Boston on Sunday before getting a five-day break from all hockey-related activities.
Arizona hosts Anaheim on Monday before playing five of its next six games on the road.
With two games on NBC and then two more on NBCSN, your Sunday should be jam-packed with Hockey Day in America action. A look at the hockey hotbed of Warroad, Minnesota adds a delectable cherry on top, too.
If you need a guide to this party of pucks and patriotism, look no further than this post.
Washington Capitals at New York Rangers, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC
John Carlson, T.J. Oshie and the dominant Capitals take on Ryan McDonagh and the Blueshirts. The Metropolitan Division represents some of the NHL’s upper crust, so don’t be fooled by the Rangers being the first wild card while the Caps are tops in the East; both of these teams can go. Kenny Albert and Brian Boucher will be there to call the action.
Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins, 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC
Mike “Doc” Emrick and Eddie Olczyk will be in the booth for this battle between teams that met in back-to-back Stanley Cup Final series in 2008 and 2009. Along with usual suspects like Sidney Crosby and Henrik Zetterberg, these teams feature American scorers such as Dylan Larkin and, of course, Phil Kessel.
Chicago Blackhawks at Buffalo Sabres, 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The action shifts to NBCSN as Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks hope to teach Jack Eichel and the upstart Sabres a lesson or two. The Blackhawks are in playoff position, as usual, while Buffalo is rallying to try to make a push of its own. Gord Miller and Joe Micheletti will be your guides.
Boston Bruins at San Jose Sharks, 8:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Hockey Day in America’s coverage closes off with this matchup between David Backes‘ Bruins and Joe Pavelski‘s Sharks. Randy Hahn, Andy Brickley and Bret Hedican will take you through this match between the Pacific Division’s top team and a Bruins team fighting to stick in the East playoff picture.