Besides the opportunity to play a competitive game outdoors, the chance to play on TV also makes the event a huge deal, especially for Minnesota’s high school kids.
“This is something these kids look forward to all year, knowing that they’re going to play in the outdoor game and it’s going to be televised,” said Gosselin, who grew up in Wisconsin but played collegiately at Minnesota-Duluth before embarking on a six-year professional career. “Same thing with the state tournament. It’s just a way of life, and if you ever get a chance to experience something like that, you’ll never forget it.
“It’s a neat culture. People just take the day to take it all in and celebrate it. It’s hard to explain, but when you have a culture like that and a unique thing going on, just like any other sport that’s popular in any other area — people love to celebrate it and they’re happy to be involved, and they’re humble and thankful.”
But as unique as Minnesota’s rich hockey culture is, Gosselin believes that just about any hockey community could put on a celebratory event like this and create its own traditions, just like Minnesota has.
“This is showing that they put their kids first,” he added. “You can create whatever kind of culture you would like with the passion, and that’s what they’ve done. USA Hockey is made up of volunteers and when you’re passionate about something and you get some time and you give back to the kids, it’s just a great feeling.”
While USA Hockey doesn’t have a direct role in the festivities this year, Gosselin points out that the organization’s influence on the proceedings is definitely being felt.
“In the past, we’ve provided clinics, assistance in money, outdoor practices or whatever, wherever we’re needed,” Gosselin said. “Minnesota Hockey does a great job with their kids and they’re one of the leaders in the field as far as player development. In numbers, they’ve just done a fantastic job of promoting the game with kids. There’s a huge amount of support.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Header image from Jim Rosvold/Minnesota Wild