By Molly Rosenblatt

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One thing’s for sure in Minnesota: We love hockey.

Right now, two Minnesota rinks are among ten finalists competing to be America’s most passionate hockey community.

Bloomington’s Ice Garden and Austin’s Riverside Arena are going for big money in the nationwide Kraft Hockeyville competition. So what makes the arenas so special?

“It’s kind of like our second house, because we’re here all the time in the winter,” one young hockey player at Bloomington’s Ice Garden said.

Even on a sunny spring break day, the Ice Garden is packed with eager little skaters. From the players making memories to their parents who already have so many, on and off the ice.

Born and raised in Bloomington with a son now following her footsteps, Jodi Hogan decided to nominate the Ice Garden for what she feels is a well-deserved award.

“When I was a teenager in high school, we would come here at that time because the Jefferson Jaguars were doing really really well,” she said. “Some of us came here to watch the games and just cheer on the team, and now I’m back here 20-plus years later cheering on my kiddos’ teams, and some of his friends’ teams.”

We all know Minneostans are passionate about hockey, but the Ice Garden — built back in 1970 — is a special place with a lot of historic events and famous skaters.

Ice Garden Manager Bob Carr has been here for more than 40 years. He’s seen a lot, from the U.S. National Team, Wayne Gretzky, to foreign teams hitting the rink.

“I spend more time here than I do at home,” he said. “You just come in and make sure everything is running right and everybody’s happy.”

It’s a job he calls a labor of love.

“A passion, you’ve got to have a passion for it,” Carr said. “You can feel the energy of the high school games and the little kids’ games.”

The $150,000 grand prize is to be used for arena upgrades. You have until 10:59 p.m. Thursday to vote on the Hockeyville website.


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