Minnesota, also known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” is a state rich in history and culture. It is also home to many great sports teams, including the Minnesota Vikings in football, the Minnesota Timberwolves in basketball, and the Minnesota Twins in baseball. But in this article, we will focus on the historic upsets and wins that have shaped the history of hockey in Minnesota.
Hockey has a deep-rooted history in Minnesota, with the first organized game played in 1895 in the tiny town of Pine City. Since then, the state has produced numerous talented players, including several NHL superstars such as Phil Housley, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Zach Parise.
Minnesota is also home to the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, a team that has dominated the college hockey scene, winning five NCAA Division I championships. Let us now take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the most memorable moments in Minnesota’s hockey history.
The “Miracle on Ice”
The 1980 Winter Olympics saw a major upset in the world of hockey, and it all happened in Lake Placid, New York. This was the year the “Miracle on Ice” occurred when the underdog Team USA defeated the heavily favored Soviet Union in a stunning 4-3 victory.
The team’s captain, Mike Eruzione, hails from Massachusetts, but his winning goal in the final period was set up by a pass from Minnesota native Mark Johnson. Six players from Minnesota were part of the “Miracle on Ice” team, including forward Neal Broten, who became the first American-born player to win the NHL’s prestigious Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year in 1982.
Mario Lemieux’s Five Goals
An unexpected and memorable moment in Minnesota hockey history took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1988. The Minnesota North Stars were facing the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals. Game 1 seemed to be going in favor of the underdog North Stars as they were winning 3-1 in the second period.
But then Penguins superstar Mario Lemieux took over, scoring an impressive five goals in one game and leading his team to a 5-3 victory. Although the Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup that year, Lemieux’s performance is still talked about and considered one of the greatest individual moments in NHL history.
The Birth of the Women’s Hockey Team
In the early 1990s, the University of Minnesota created the first varsity women’s hockey team in the state. This was a significant milestone in women’s hockey, as it was one of the first few programs to offer scholarships to female athletes.
The team has since become a force in collegiate women’s hockey, winning seven national titles since its inception in 1997. Many members of the team have gone on to represent the United States in international competitions, including the Olympics.
The Minnesota Wild Cinderella Story
In the summer of 2000, Minnesota celebrated hockey’s return to the state with the formation of the Minnesota Wild, an NHL expansion team. The newly formed franchise had a rough start in the 2000-2001 season with a record of 25-39-13. But the following year, they had a dramatic turnaround, making it to the playoffs and advancing to the Western Conference Finals.
Although they ultimately lost to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the Wild’s Cinderella story captured the hearts of hockey fans across the state. The team continues to thrive and has made it to the playoffs ten times, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2021.
The Rise of Girls’ Hockey
Girls’ hockey has been on the rise in Minnesota, with the number of female players increasing every year. This is partially thanks to the Minnesota Wild’s partnership with the Minnesota Girls Hockey Coaches Association to promote and develop girls’ hockey in the state.
The state has also produced many talented female players, most notably two-time Olympic Medalist Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and her twin sister Monique, who have both represented the United States in the Olympic Games.
Minnesota has a rich hockey history filled with unforgettable upsets and wins. From the “Miracle on Ice” to the birth of women’s hockey and the emergence of talented female players, the state has left a significant mark on the sport.
The passion for hockey in Minnesota continues to thrive, with many young players aspiring to follow in the footsteps of their hometown heroes. As we look towards the future, we can only imagine what historic moments and victories are yet to come.