All over my home state of Minnesota, when children are finally released from the incarceration that is their elementary school, they hit the local park or backyard rink to skate with their friends. This is where the dream begins, a kid races down the ice before toe-dragging the puck into a wrist shot, hoping one day that wrister will be going into the back of the net at the Xcel Energy Center, full of 19,000 hockey fans; just like Nick Leddy and the impeccable talent that surrounds him. Yes indeed, I’m talking about the Super Sophs of Eden Prairie who Mr. Hockey, Nick Leddy, led to the 2009 State Title. One of those Super Sophs would go on to make the most exciting play I have ever seen live.
Recently I was asked what the most exciting sporting event I have ever been to was. I had to think for a second, but I got it. Everyone who was there, whether they had stake in the game or not will remember the moment; the puck was slapped from center ice into the gut of Duluth East netminder JoJo Jeanetta before squirting through his legs, and the race was on. Former Super Soph Kyle Rau scurried alongside a Duluth East defenseman before diving for the puck and the State Championship. With the blade of the stick, Rau tapped the puck just inside the post, over the goal line to win the title for his Eden Prairie Eagles in the third overtime stanza of the 2011 Class AA State Championship.
There’s a reason why grown men skip work to go watch High School hockey in March. It doesn’t matter if you have ties to any team in the tournament, it’s part of the culture. I’ve heard it’s like basketball in Indiana or football in Texas, but I’ll stick to hockey in Minnesota, it’s what I grew up with.
Anyway, it’s that time of year again, time for the Section Playoffs. It’s where the 8 teams that get to attempt that wrister at the Xcel Energy Center are decided (Unless you count the additional 8 teams that get to play for the JV tournament in front of the lower bowl). Benilde-St. Margaret’s, the defending AA State Champions and my Alma Mater look to be poised to make another run but unfortunately my father’s hometown Farmington Tigers may have some problems as they seem to have subpar goaltending.
I did what I could to convince whoever cares, but the only way to know what it’s like is to experience it first hand.