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Director Tommy Haines discusses why he made the movie 'Hockeyland,' the challenges of the project

Haines, who lived in Mountain Iron before moving to Rosemount, discusses his documentary, which follows the 2019-20 seasons for the Eveleth-Gilbert and Hermantown boys hockey teams. He talks about the film, which will have screenings in Minnesota, North Dakota in September, on The Rink Live podcast with Jess Myers and Mick Hatten.

Pond Hockey 2018
"Hockeyland" director and producer Tommy Haines
Contributed photo / David Greedy Photography

Growing up in Mountain Iron and Rosemount, filmmaker Tommy Haines saw the impact of hockey on people in the state of Minnesota.

He decided to spend a season following two northern Minnnesota boys high school teams — Eveleth-Gilbert and Hermantown — to try to show the passion in the game for teenagers in the state.

The documentary, which follows the Hermantown Hawks and Eveleth-Gilbert Golden Bears through the 2019-20 season, hits movie theaters on Friday.

He also captures slices of life in northern Minnesota and real emotions in a documentary called "Hockeyland," which will be released in theaters in the area in September. He talks about the process of making the film, his background and more in this edition of The Rink Live podcast with Jess Myers and Mick Hatten.

Watch or listen


2:05 Where Tommy grew up (Mountain Iron, Rosemount) and how he got interested in hockey, the inspiration for making the movie


3:45 How they picked Eveleth-Gilbert and Hermantown as the focus for the movie

5:30 The balance between privacy, getting access behind the scenes

7:25 Capturing the culture, scenery of northern Minnesota on film

8:25 His documentary "Pond Hockey" from 2008, interviewing Neal Broten, Wayne Gretzky

11:15 Merging "Hoop Dreams" and "Friday Night Lights," how they decided on which players to focus on

12:50 Where they embedded during the time of filming

13:50 The reaction of and working with Hermantown coach Pat Andrews, Eveleth-Gilbert coach Jeff Torrel

16:20 The level of interest, how serious people take high school hockey in Minnesota, the passionate debate of AA vs. A


19:20 The tough life (cancer, injuries) parts in the movie, the trickiness of how and when to film, parents in the film

21:35 A key player in the film, having some challenges after making some bad choices when he was younger

22:50 Season wrapped up right before the pandemic hit

24:25 How Hermantown was affected by the pandemic the following season

25:25 Season begins for Hermantown against Eveleth-Gilbert, how much game footage to use

27:50 What he learned from studying other hockey films

29:00 Filming a moment that he knew had to be in the movie, capturing the emotions


Minnesota theatrical openings

Sept. 9

Albert Lea — Mall Cinema 7 Theatre
Alexandria — Midway 9 Theatre

Andover — Andover Cinema
Baxter — Lakes 12 Theatre
Bemidji — Bemidji Theatre
Champlin — Mann Theatres Champlin
Cold Spring — Quarry Cinema
Cloquet — Premier Theatres
Delano — Emagine Delano
Detroit Lakes — Washington Square 7
Duluth — Marcus Duluth Cinema, The West Theatre
Dundas — Cannon Valley Cinema 10
Eagan — Emagine Eagan
East Bethel — Emagine East Bethel
Elk River — Marcus Elk River
Ely — Ely's Historic State Theatre
Fergus Falls — Westridge Theatre
Grand Rapids — Grand Rapids Cinema 8
Hastings — Marcus Hastings Cinema
Hermantown — Marcus Lakes Cinema
Hibbing — Hibbing Cinema 8
Hutchinson — CineMagic Century 9 Theatre
International Falls — Cine 5
Lakeville — Emagine Lakeville
Marshall — Marshall 6 Theatre
Minneapolis — The Film Society at MSP Film at The Main Cinema
Montevideo — Millennium Theater
Monticello — Emagine Monticello
Moose Lake — Historic Lake Theatre
Oakdale — Marcus Oakdale Cinema
Owatonna — Northwoods Cinema 10
Pequot Lakes — Sunset Cinema
Plymouth — Plymouth Grand 15, Emagine Willow Creek
Red Wing — Red Wing Cinema 8
Rochester — Cinemagic Hollywood 12 Theatres, Rochester Cinema
Rogers — Emagine Rogers
Rosemount — Marcus Rosemount Cinema
St. Louis Park — Showplace Icon
St. Paul — Highland Theatres 1 & 2, Mann Theatres
Sauk Centre — Main Street Theatre
St. Michael — St. Michael Cinema
Thief River Falls — Falls Cinema
Virginia — Cinema 6 Theatre
Waconia — Emagine Waconia
Waite Park — Marcus Parkwood Cinema
White Bear Lake — Emagine White Bear
Willmar — Golden Ticket Kandi 6
Woodbury — Woodbury 10 Theatre

Sept. 16 openings

East Grand Forks, Minn. — River Cinema 15
Bismarck, N.D. — Grand 22 Theatres

Sept. 19 opening

Fargo, N.D. — Fargo Theatre

Sept. 23 opening

Fargo, N.D. — Marcus West Acres Cinema

Mick Hatten is a reporter and editor for Forum News Service and helps manage TheRinkLive.com, a website dedicated to hockey. He began working for Forum Communications in November 2018 and has covered St. Cloud State University hockey since 2010. A graduate of St. Cloud State, he has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and has been a youth hockey coach since 2014. mhatten@forumcomm.com

For more coverage of St. Cloud and the surrounding communities, check out St. Cloud Live.
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