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Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament Is NHL Pipeline

Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament Is NHL Pipeline

Every state has something it’s known for and Minnesota is known for its deep hockey roots and traditions. One of those traditions is the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament which has been going on since 1945 and has seen many future NHLers go through its ranks.

The teams that make it to the tournament are essentially treated like hockey royalty and they get to play on the biggest stage in the state; the Xcel Energy Center. Since the Minnesota Wild’s season is in full swing when it happens, they get temporarily “kicked out” of their home arena and head on the road for the duration of the tournament which is four days.

Even the Wild get involved with the tournament. While they were on the road recently they had the State Tournament on the television in their lockerroom and Wild players Alex Goligoski and Samuel Walker, both Minnesotans, discussed the tournament and what it’s like according to Michael Russo of The Athletic (from ‘Wild Insider: Russo and Smith on the Gus Bus, movie night with Flower, good guy Jon Merrill’, The Athletic, 3/14/23).

Sammy Walker, Minnesota Wild (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Wild don’t leave for just one weekend during this time of year, they actually go on the road for three consecutive weekends at the end of February into March because the girl’s hockey tournament, wrestling, and then the boy’s hockey tournament all happen over that time and the Xcel Energy Center is where they play.

Minnesota State Tournament Background

As stated above, the tournament started back in 1945 and back then it was just a one-tier tournament so fewer teams made it to State. That lasted until 1991 when they broke it into two tiers with larger schools in tier one and smaller schools in tier two. That remained for about two years until 1994 when they broke it into two classes; Class A and Class AA which is what we see today.

Related: Why Minnesota is Truly the State of Hockey

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Class A is smaller schools that house teams like Warroad, Hermantown, Alexandria, Luverne, and other small towns from across the state. Class AA is bigger schools like Eden Prairie, Moorhead, Duluth East, Edina, Minnetonka, and numerous others from around the state.

Similar to an NHL season, each team competes throughout the year to be the best of the best and qualify for the playoffs. The first round is called sections and if they make it out of that they head to the State Tournament where it’s single…

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