Bantam AA State Hockey Tournament at Lake of the Woods International Arena a Success
The Lake of the Woods International Arena hosted their first State Hockey Tournament with the Bantam AA’s coming to Baudette this past week on March 18-20, 2022. Hockey teams from all over the state battled all year long with a goal to make it to the state tournament. Pulling off a big tournament is no small feat for a small community. Hosting a number of visitors like this is not an easy one and the staff and many volunteers pulled it off with success.
Teams were from across the entire state. They all traveled to the Lake of the Woods area, an area synonymous with good hockey to take part in the state tournament and soak in the many area highlights. Some stayed in hotels and some at traditional resorts. They had the chance to meet Willie Walleye, look across to Canada and find out what hospitality in these parts is all about.
The teams started out on Thursday night with a welcoming banquet allowing players, coaches and guests to experience one of the staples up at The Walleye Capital of the World, a fish fry or maybe better said, walleye fry at Sportsman’s Lodge.
Friday at noon is when the tournament games began. The first game featured Moorhead vs Osseo-Maple Grove at noon. At 2pm Stillwater took on West St. Paul. At 4pm, White Bear Lake battled Eden Prairie and finally at 6pm it was Andover vs Bemidji. A nice mix of metro and greater Minnesota teams coming together to eventually crown the tournament champion, Moorhead.
Minnesota… The State of Hockey. It’s hardly a secret that Minnesota has long been a Mecca for hockey. The first hockey teams in Minnesota were formed a couple of decades before Henry Ford’s Model-T changed the world. The University of Minnesota first organized a hockey team in 1895 and though unsanctioned by the University, played a game against a team from Winnipeg in 1895.
No state does hockey like Minnesota does. That starts with youth hockey, from mini-mites to high school and every level in between. Hockey is so strong in Minnesota, it is often compared to Canada with their deep hockey traditions. Minnesotans are happy to remain south of the border and proudly represent hockey in the United States, it speaks to the level of passion the north land truly has for hockey.
Although a bit dated, to give perspective, in 2014, Minnesota again ranked first in the nation in terms of the number of players registered at USA Hockey with over 54,000. That number becomes even more impressive upon the realization that high school hockey players are technically not affiliated with USA Hockey so that number could even be a few thousand higher. The number two state is Michigan with slightly more than 50,000. The staggering statistic here is that Minnesota has considerably more hockey participation despite Michigan having nearly double the population.
This video was filmed in Minnesota and was made in response to a loss during the the 2014 Olympics by Team USA which shows the type of attitude displayed towards the game not found anywhere else in the country.
Hockey is alive and well in Minnesota. It only seems appropriate that the Bantam AA State Tournament was decided at the Lake of the Woods International Arena, in Baudette, MN across the Rainy River from Canada.
Congratulations and thank you to all hockey players, coaches, visitors, staff and of course, volunteers. They say the greatest gift someone can give is the gift of time. The reason… time is the one thing that can never be replaced. Kudos to the many volunteers who stepped up and lent a helping hand to pull this off. The reviews were great and the memories will be long lasting.
For many, dreams came true. For all, memories were made.