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Long wait is over, Warroad lands Hockey Day Minnesota for 2024

The annual one-day celebration of hockey in the state will be coming to one of the northernmost communities in the state in early 2024, as officials from the Minnesota Wild announced the awarding of Hockey Day Minnesota to Hockeytown USA.

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The water tower in Warroad, Minn., which has been nicknamed "Hockeytown USA" since the late 1950s, features crossed hockey sticks.
Contributed / Visit Warroad

WARROAD, Minn. – Known as “Hockeytown USA” for more than 60 years, the hockey-crazy community of Warroad will be the epicenter of the State of Hockey for a winter weekend in 2024.

Just minutes before the shotgun start of the annual Warroad Celebrity Golf Tournament on Saturday, July 30, officials from Bally Sports North announced that Warroad will host Hockey Day Minnesota for the first time.

“We’ve been waiting a long time to be able to host Hockey Day Minnesota in Warroad, otherwise known as the real Hockeytown USA,” said Tad Palmquist, Hockey Day Minnesota 2024 Local Organizing Committee co-chair, in a statement released by the Minnesota Wild. “As a small community of 1,800 people located near the Canadian border, Warroad and the surrounding area has an impressive hockey legacy. We are excited to showcase how we live life on the ice during HDM 2024 to the entire State of Hockey.”

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The event will take place over a winter 2024 weekend to be announced. The games are expected to be played at an outdoor rink that will be constructed with a view of Warroad’s iconic water tower, which features crossed hockey sticks. Warroad (population 1,830) is the hometown of seven U.S. Olympic hockey players — four of them gold medal winners — and two current NHL players.

The announcement was made on an outdoor stage with Anthony LaPanta from Bally Sports North — who has been a part of the broadcast team for Hockey Day Minnesota from the start — surrounded by dozens of youth the high school players from Warroad.

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"This is the kind of community, for me, that Hockey Day Minnesota is all about, where hockey is life for the little guys all the way up," said LaPanta. "Kids here are legitimately skating outside all winter long and I think this is just going to be a great host."

In 2022, Warroad's high school girls team won the state title while the boys finished as state runner-up.

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Washington Capitals star TJ Oshie, who won two state high school titles with the Warroad Warriors in 2003 and 2005, held aloft the Minnesota Wild sweater from the announcement that Warroad will host Hockey Day Minnesota in 2024.
Jess Myers / The Rink Live

One of those current NHLers, Washington Capitals star T.J. Oshie, was on hand for the announcement, just hours before his number 19 jersey was retired by Warroad High School. Oshie was a key player on the Warriors’ 2003 and 2005 Minnesota state title teams.

Hockey Day Minnesota, which was first held in 2007 roughly 40 minutes down Highway 11 in Baudette, is a day-long celebration of the sport in the state, featuring outdoor hockey games in the morning and afternoon, and culminating with a Minnesota Wild game in the evening. Warroad, which sits just six miles from the Canadian border, will be the northernmost community to host the event.

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Minneapolis goalie Alex Lamont (31) deflects a shot from Warroad forward Matthew Hard (18) in the second period in a boys hockey game during Hockey Day Minnesota at Parade Stadium in Minneapolis on Jan. 18, 2020. Warroad beat Minneapolis, 5-1. (John Autey / The Rink Live)

The full schedule of games will be announced at a later date, once the 2023-24 Minnesota Wild schedule is known, but there was immediate speculation that Warroad and long-time arch rival Roseau could meet on the outdoor rink. Both the Warriors and Rams have participated in Hockey Day Minnesota in the past. Roseau beat Blaine 1-0 in 2008 in Baudette, in a game played under frigid conditions, with the temperature and wind chill well below zero. In 2020 Warroad defeated host Minneapolis 5-1 on an outdoor rink with a view of the skyscrapers of Minnesota’s biggest city.

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Warroad celebrates their win over against Proctor/Hermantown in the State Class A Tournament Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Warroad is the home of Marvin, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of windows and doors, and local officials noted that the company will have a prominent sponsorship role in the event. Christian Brothers, a hockey stick brand, was founded in Warroad and operated there for more than 40 years before the brand name was sold.

Earlier in 2022, Mankato became the first southern Minnesota community to host Hockey Day Minnesota, with more than 10,000 fans filling the football stadium at Minnesota State Mankato for a men’s game between the host Mavericks and St. Thomas. The 2023 event will be held in White Bear Township, just north of St. Paul.

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Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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