Hockey Day in Minnesota — an event driven by wall-to-wall coverage of multiple levels of the sport by Fox Sports North — was officially Jan. 19 this year.
Since that title is already taken, let’s say this: Saturday was Hockey Night in Minnesota. Four major events started at 7 p.m.: Class 2A high school title game between Edina and Hill-Murray; Gophers men’s hockey vs. Bemidji State in the final WCHA regular-season game before Minnesota moves to the Big Ten; Gophers women’s hockey against North Dakota in the WCHA playoff championship game, and Wild at Nashville, with Ryan Suter making a return to his old city.
The high school title game — won by Edina — was going to mean good things for a local team no matter what. But the other three also had a decidedly positive local outcome, making Saturday a pretty special night.
• Fans of Gophers men’s hockey hit the trifecta on Saturday. Not only did the Gophers win 5-1, completing a rare road sweep, but St. Cloud State lost at Wisconsin to give Minnesota a share of the MacNaughton Cup, which goes to the regular-season league champion.
On top of that, North Dakota — arch-nemesis of the Gophers and their fans — missed out on a chance to share the cup when it lost in overtime to Minnesota State Mankato. So the Mavericks clinched home ice in the playoffs while the Gophers and St. Cloud State (which had never won the conference title) fittingly shared the cup.
• Gophers women’s hockey, meanwhile, continued its amazing roll. Not only did Minnesota claim its 46th consecutive victory (38-0 this season), it defeated North Dakota 2-0 for its sixth consecutive shutout. The Gophers haven’t allowed a goal since Feb. 16. Just think about that for a minute. They have outscored opponents 25-0 in that span. That is complete and utter domination, and they will remain on their home ice for the entire NCAA tournament as long as they keep winning.
• The Wild eked out a 2-1 shootout victory over Nashville, the kind of two-point road game Minnesota needs to have if it is going to be a playoff contender. It wasn’t a pretty game, but a win is a win on Hockey Night in Minnesota.