Hockey Day Minnesota has grown and grown over its 14 years.
As Mankato prepares to host one of the state's premier hockey events, Hockey Day is becoming more like Hockey Week.
Hockey Day Minnesota 2022 will take place in Mankato on Jan. 22, 2022. But the outdoor rink at Blakeslee Stadium, home of the Division II powerhouse Minnesota State University football team, will be busy for days in advance.
The dates, times and participating teams for the games on Hockey Day Minnesota '22 were announced Saturday and all of Mankato's high school and college teams will be part of next year's celebration of the sport. Ticket information will be released at a later date.
Festivities will begin on Wednesday and continue on Thursday and Friday, leading up to Saturday's televised games on Bally Sports North, highlighted by four high school teams making their first-ever Hockey Day Minnesota appearances.
The day's action begins at 9:30 a.m. with a rematch of the past two Class AA girls hockey state championship games between Andover and Edina. Andover defeated the Hornets 5-3 in the 2020 state title game, then Edina returned the favor last season, holding off the Huskies for a 2-1 victory in the 2021 state final. Edina is 50-2-0 over the past two seasons (including 22-0-0 last year), while Andover is 50-3 in that span.
That game will be followed by a boys high school matchup between Section 8A power East Grand Forks and Class AA school Prior Lake, which went 14-3-2 last year and lost to Minnetonka 3-1 in the Section 2AA semifinals. East Grand Forks, meanwhile, has advanced to the Class A state tournament in two of the past three seasons, including last spring, when it fell to eventual state champion Gentry Academy in the state semifinals.
The final live-televised game at Blakeslee will feature the home-standing Minnesota State men's team against the state's newest Division I program, the University of St. Thomas. That game is set to begin at 4:30 p.m. It will mark the fourth and final regular-season matchup between the teams, who are now rivals in the new-look CCHA. MSU reached the Frozen Four for the first time in program history last spring, falling to in-state rival St. Cloud State 5-4 in the national semifinals in Pittsburgh.
The game will mark the Tommies first time to appear on region-wide television as a Division I program, while MSU will make its second-ever appearance at Hockey Day Minnesota. The Mavericks also played in the event on Jan. 20, 2018, winning 5-2 at St. Cloud State.
Bally Sports North's 16 hours of live coverage of HDM 2022 will conclude with an 8 p.m. game from the Xcel Energy Center between the Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Wild are tough to beat on Hockey Day, holding an 11-3-0 all-time record.
The week wraps up on Sunday, Jan. 23, with a Division I women's game between Minnesota State and St. Thomas at 1:30 p.m. at Blakeslee.
Hockey Day Minnesota '22 begins on Wednesday, Jan. 19, with a 7 p.m. game at Blakeslee Stadium between the Mankato East and Mankato West girls high school teams.
A Wounded Warriors game is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 20, with a Southern Minnesota Celebrity game to follow at 7 p.m.
A boys high school game between Mankato East and Mankato West is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21, with a Minnesota State University alumni to follow, at 8:30 p.m.
Hockey Day Minnesota was set to be held in Mankato last year, but the event was postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are thrilled to see Hockey Day Minnesota back in action at Blakeslee Field in 2022,” Minnesota Wild President Matt Majka said in a statement. “The Mankato organizing committee and the community have been tremendous in their efforts and hard work to bring this event to an unprecedented five days of action. We look forward to sharing this unique experience with hockey fans throughout the State of Hockey.”
This will mark the first time the event has been held in southern Minnesota. Previous locations include Baudette Bay (2007, 2008), Phalen Park (2009), Hermantown (2010), Moorhead (2011), Minnetonka (2012), Grand Rapids (2013), Elk River (2014), Saint Paul (2015), Duluth (2016), Stillwater (2017), St. Cloud (2018), Bemidji (2019) and Minneapolis (2020).
“On behalf of our entire Greater Mankato Hockey Day Minnesota Local Organizing Committee, we are thrilled to showcase the most extensive hockey schedule that incorporates the best of all levels...,” said Hockey Day Minnesota 2022 co-chair David Wittenberg. “We truly feel that with the best venue ever created for HDM, we will garner the interest of not only hockey enthusiasts from southern Minnesota but novice fans who are looking for an incredible outdoor winter experience.”