MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hockey Day Minnesota is this Saturday.
High school, college and pro teams will play outside throughout the day on a specially-made rink.
It’s a celebration of the state’s official sport that an estimated 100,000 Minnesotans play.
So, how did Minnesota become the State of Hockey?
The phrase “State of Hockey” started as a marketing campaign by the Minnesota Wild during its inaugural season.
The Wild says it was a way to signify how the state of Minnesota is truly bound together by its hockey roots.
But, ultimately, it’s become part of people’s lexicon as another way to describe “The Land of 10,000 Lakes.”
“Everyone has a dream to be a pro hockey player, from mites to squirts to peewees,” Edina parent Frank Mork said. “It makes parents crazy and it makes kids crazy.”
Almost two thirds of the 1980 Olympic “Miracle on Ice” team was from Minnesota. One-third of the current Division One college players and 20 percent of the Americans in the NHL also hail from the state.
Many people believe it’s simply the cold temperatures and thousands of lakes that made Minnesota an ideal place to play hockey. But Adam Scher, a senior curator with the Minnesota Historical Society, says there’s more to the story.
He says hockey started in Canada in the mid-1800s. Immigrants brought the sport to the Iron Range in the late 1800s when they moved there to work in the mines.
It provided something to do for the children of the workers and, ultimately, that area also produced Minnesota hockey legends like John Mariucci.
According to Ross Bernstein, author of several books about Minnesota hockey, the mining companies supported the sport for its employees and their families.
“It kept them entertained and happy,” he said.
The first indoor rink was in built in Hallock in 1894. It cost $400 to build and skate sharpening cost 35 cents.