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Published February 13, 2011, 05:16 PM

Hockey Day Celebrates Minnesota’s Sport

From hockey moms showing off their skills to Sen. Al Franken having a little fun of his own, there were plenty of Hockey Day Minnesota memories to go around Saturday in Moorhead.

By: Ryan S. Clark and Kristen M. Daum, Inforum

From hockey moms showing off their skills to Sen. Al Franken having a little fun of his own, there were plenty of Hockey Day Minnesota memories to go around Saturday in Moorhead.

The city was host to the fifth annual Hockey Day, marking a community celebration of Minnesota’s love for the sport.

That passion was apparent as thousands flocked to the Moorhead Youth Arena to watch two outdoor high school games and the youth games played indoors.

“It’s outdoor hockey. It’s getting back to the roots of the sport,” said Nancy Kinslow, who came with her husband, Don, from Detroit Lakes to watch the day’s festivities.

Hockey Day drew thousands who shared Kinslow’s view, but it also captured attention across multiple states with the day’s games being televised by Fox Sports North.

Minnesota’s games were indeed about Minnesota’s game: hockey.

And everyone got in on the action – even Mom.

Hockey moms from Brainerd and Moorhead faced each other in a friendly midday game on the outdoor public rink at Morningside Park, just across Main Avenue from the youth arena.

The moms’ groups are comprised of women with no previous experience in the sport.

“We are just people who’ve come to learn the game as adults,” said Julie Mackcow of the Brainerd Moms. “We don’t care what we look like. We don’t care if we lose. We’re just out here to have fun.”

But for those keeping score, the Moorhead moms came out victorious in a 3-1 win.

Moms on both teams said they enjoyed the chance to play.

They said it gives them appreciation for what their children go through on the ice, and it’s an opportunity to be role models for young girls considering involvement in the sport.

Hockey moms weren’t the only people having fun, though.

Sen. Franken had a bit of his own.

Franken, who did the ceremonial puck drop for the first game between Roseau and Wayzata, faked the drop a few times.

It drew laughs from the crowd – but a possible bruise for Franken, who was accidently whacked in the ankle by one of the player’s sticks.

Once the puck officially dropped, fans were treated to a game Wayzata won 2-1 in overtime.

The home crowd was even more excited when Moorhead took on No. 1 Hill-Murray later in the afternoon.

Sunny, clear skies and more than 30-degree temperatures made the day enjoyable for fans but caused poor playing conditions for those on the ice.

By early afternoon, the ice on the main outdoor rink turned soggy, leading to multiple delays in the game between Moorhead and Hill-Murray.

At one point, a fire extinguisher was brought out to help smooth the ice.

“Like I told the guys out there,” said Moorhead hockey coach Dave Morinville, “you gotta get that thing out there to help out with the ice.”

Fans found ways to pass the time, from building bleachers made of snow to singing Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.”

Even conductors driving the trains that passed through on a nearby track blared their horns in support of the crowds.

Perhaps the not-so-great conditions will serve as practice for future events.

Morinville said the rink will be a permanent fixture that could be used year-round.

Not bad at all for what was the first privately funded Hockey Day in the event’s history.

The spirit of Hockey Day ultimately went far beyond the games played on the ice.

“It’s a great way to promote hockey in Minnesota,” said Moorhead hockey mom Patty Grinde. “And it shows that it goes from the little, little kids all the way up to parents.”

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