ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — One of the state’s beloved sports traditions is off to a historic start.
The boy’s high school hockey tournament kicked off this morning and will go through Saturday.
The first two teams to take the ice were the No. 2-seed Delano Tigers and the Monticello-Annandale-Maple Lake Moose. It was the first state tournament appearance for both teams.
We all know making it to the tournament is big, but for these teams it was huge. This is the front page of the paper from sectionals. These teams came here with not only the support of their schools, they are each the pride of their entire town.
As the Tigers left Delano on Tuesday, it was a hero’s farewell. And heroes are exactly what these young men are for their zip code.
Including their local lawmaker, who skipped session for the game.
“We have a town the size of 5,464 and I think almost everybody’s here,” Delano Rep. Joe McDonald said.
“I don’t know if I can even put it into words. Me, I haven’t slept in like a week and I’m just the rink guy,” Delano Rink Manager Rick Ragan said.
But their excitement was as rivaled as their skating.
Monticello took an early lead much to the excitement of Tyler Anderson’s mother.
“Oh my gosh, it’s been a great game. They’re playing out of their minds,” she said.
Keith Holme’s grandfather was pretty pumped too.
“To see him play on this team is unbelievable super fantastic,” he said.
But then Delano stepped it up, and so did their crowd.
The two small-town teams looked quite comfortable on the big frozen stage. Even though this tournament game was a first for both, it was the last for one. Monticello won 3-2.
They’ll face Northfield in a Class A semifinal Friday. It’ll be the first time ever that two unseeded teams will meet for a spot in the state championship game.