MINNEAPOLIS — Ohio State women’s hockey coach Nadine Muzerall admits that her team will be at a disadvantage when the Buckeyes prepare to face the Gophers as part of Hockey Day Minnesota 2020 on an outdoor rink in Minneapolis.
Unlike every team that plays in the self-proclaimed State of Hockey, Muzerall knows of no outdoor rinks available in Central Ohio where her team can prep for the elements.
“We’re going to just show up,” said Muzerall, a former Gophers player and coach, who said she has adjusted to “10 months of playing outside with my kids” since moving to Ohio in 2016.
In sharp contrast to the temperatures well below zero that teams and fans experienced in January for Hockey Day 2019 in Bemidji, Wednesday’s announcement of the 2020 teams and schedule was held under a bright, sunny sky with high humidity and the thermometer pushing toward 90. It may well be 100 degrees cooler over January 16-19, 2020, when Minnesota’s largest city hosts the event.
“This is awesome. Minnesota is truly a hockey state,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who was certainly perspiring under his maroon Gophers jersey. “To have this event right here in Minneapolis for the first time is incredible, and I would argue maybe overdue.”
They will construct an outdoor rink at Parade Stadium, near the Walker Art Center’s renowned sculpture garden, and with an imposing view of the Minneapolis skyline as a backdrop. On Jan. 16, will feature two girls high school games, with Holy Angels facing Minneapolis at 6 p.m.; and Grand Rapids-Greenway facing The Blake School at 8 p.m.
On Jan. 17, fans can attend an NHL Alumni game, where many of the dozens of retired pro hockey players living in the Twin Cities will play at 7 p.m.
The televised boys hockey games on Jan. 18, will have Warroad facing Minneapolis at 9:30 a.m.; and Blaine facing The Blake School at 1 p.m. The final outdoor event will be the college women’s game between the Gophers and Buckeyes at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 18. The long Day of Hockey’s finale will take place in St. Paul, where the Minnesota Wild will host the Dallas Stars at Xcel Energy Center at 8 p.m.
The two Mr. Hockey winners from Minneapolis, Tom Chorske and Joe Dziedzic, were on hand for the announcement, which had coaches and players from all of the 10 teams involved in attendance. Chorske, who won the initial Mr. Hockey award in 1985 at Minneapolis Southwest, will skate in the NHL Alumni game. Dziedzic, who won the trophy in 1990 at Minneapolis Edison, coaches the combined Minneapolis boy’s team.
“It is a weird home game, but for the high school kids and for the high school hockey scene, the only thing bigger would be the state tournament,” said Dziedzic, joking that geographically his team and Warroad couldn’t be much further apart. “They’ve got a history that Minneapolis used to have with all of the state tournaments and champions and NHL players, so we’re hoping we can give them a good game.”
This will be the 14th Hockey Day Minnesota. Previous events have been held in Baudette (twice), St. Paul (twice), Hermantown, Moorhead, Excelsior, Grand Rapids, Elk River, Duluth, Stillwater, St. Cloud and Bemidji. A full schedule of events for 2020 can be found at www.wild.com/HockeyDay.