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At Girls' Hockey State Tournament, Edina is front and center

 

 

Edina vs. Burnsville in girls' state tournament.

ESPN.com writer Greg Wyshynski sparked debate in the Twin Cities on Wednesday when he set out to identify the center of the American hockey universe and landed on Edina.

Ann Baskin wasn’t buying it, and the Minnetonka hockey mom quickly offered a witty response on Thursday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center between games in the Girls’ Hockey State Tournament. When asked about Wyshynski’s article, she took out her cell phone and promptly displayed a diagram of Lake Minnetonka with the center of the American hockey universe designation.

“That’s my answer,’’ she said.

Such is the rivalry between not only Minnetonka and Edina, but also much of the state and the Hornets. Mention Edina to hockey fans, and you’ll rarely find someone without a strong opinion of the Hornets. Rational or not, many fans consider Edina the villain because of its long history of success, along with the suburb’s affluence.

“We’ve been bantering quite a bit about it,’’ said Baskin, joined by another Minnetonka hockey mom who didn’t want to disclose her name because she owns a small business in Edina. “I respect Edina; they have great teams all the time, boys and girls, but I don’t agree with [the article]. I think it should be the metro area. You’ve got teams like Andover here who are just phenomenal. You can’t pinpoint it to one.’’

Fans in the hockey hotbed of Roseau can make a case for their small town or neighboring Warroad – aka HockeyTown USA – to hold the coveted title. Duluth and the Iron Range can offer compelling arguments, too.

“What do I think about Edina being named that?” asked Sue Grafstrom of Roseau, before her Rams fell 7-2 to Minnetonka. “Yes, if you look at recent history, I would agree with that. But you can’t look at only that. You have to look at the inception of the game. If you want longevity and resilience, I’d look at Roseau and even Warroad in that vein. They’ve maintained those programs as other, bigger programs have grown around them.’’

Sue’s daughter, Kirsten, a former Rams player, pointed to how the vast majority of Roseau’s roster had parents who played for Rams sports teams. “It speaks volumes to the authenticity of our town and our school and our hockey program,’’ she said.

For Edina, which is seeking is fourth consecutive girls’ state championship and has 13 boys’ state titles to its credit, the attention from ESPN was welcome. Clothing company SotaStick also pounced on the opportunity, producing T-shirts in both green and white with “Center of the American Hockey Universe’’ on the front.

“I thought it was a great article,’’ said Cathie Bowlby of Edina, who was dressed in both the Hornets’ green and gold and Burnsville’s black and gold because she had a granddaughter playing for each team in Thursday night’s quarterfinal matchup. “College coaches come to Edina to recruit. That’s where the hockey is.’’

Is there jealousy of Edina, Bowlby was asked?

“Oh, yeah,’’ she said with a laugh. “Everybody’s competitive, and they want to beat Edina.’’

That was especially true with the fans Thursday night, as the Burnsville contingent more than tripled the Edina gathering – and even Hornets captain Lucy Bowly called Edina’s student section “invisible.’’ It’s true that Edina’s boys’ hockey team played in a section quarterfinal game at the same time, but that was true for Burnsville’s boys’ team, too.

However, that didn’t result in a Blaze victory. The Hornets scored 34 seconds into the game and went on to a 4-0 triumph, adding a bit more to Wyshynski’s argument.

What we said: How the Minneapolis Tribune covered the Miracle on Ice

Editor's note: This is the fifth in a series of occasional posts looking back 40 years to the Miracle on Ice.

Part One: A long, tiring road to Lake Placid

Part Two: Final Olympic tune-up was a big flop on a big stage

Part Three: Team USA earned unlikely tie in first taste of real competition

Part Four: Win over Czechs gave U.S. hope for the medal round

If a picture is indeed worth 1,000 words then former Minneapolis Star (and later Star Tribune) photographer Tom Sweeney logged about 75,000 worth of content during the Lake Placid Winter Olympics. His story of capturing the U.S. hockey victory over the Soviet Union is truly not to be missed by any fan of sports.

The Minneapolis Tribune had its staff in Lake Placid as well and put even more boots on the ground back home when the ultimate upset occurred 40 years ago this weekend.

Here is a look at select snippets of content, presented to readers Feb. 23, 1980: the morning after Team USA knocked off Russia 4-3.

Columnist Joe Soucheray, on USA pride in upstate New York

America’s people would not leave the arena until Mark Johnson tossed his stick to a fan. America’s people would not leave the arena until they had stopped laughing and crying and dancing in the aisles. A fan crawled over the boards and paraded America’s flag around the rink. America’s people chanted the initials of this country until they were hoarse and they kept on chanting as they streamed from the building and into the cold streets. Olympic workers in the adjacent Lake Placid High School pushed open windows and screamed America’s name. And down on Mirror Lake, where nightly Olympic medal ceremonies have been held, the first boom of the evening’s fireworks display shook the air and people stopped in their tracks because something magical was happening. Fireworks were bursting in air and strangers were hugging each other in the streets. America works. America’s team proved that.

Reporter John Gilbert, on the moments after the game

Team captain Mike Eruzione skated in to score at 10:00 [of the third period] and the Americans held firm to the finish. “Everything we had to do to win, we did,” said Eruzione, engulfed by a swarm of fans as he stepped outside the Olympic Field House. “They’re the best team in the world, you know … Wait a minute. No they’re not. Maybe we are.”

Marching around outside was most of the overflow 8,000 who had screamed, chanted and waved flags and banners. Meanwhile, President Carter called the dressing room where the players were singing “God Bless America” to invite the team to the White House.

Gilbert, on a night of emotion

“This,” coach Herb Brooks said, “will cost [Gophers AD Paul] Giel a bundle.” Then he laughed. He may get some pro offers from his outstanding job at Lake Placid, but he was joking about … upping the ante on his contract.

Just then, North Stars General Manager Lou Nanne burst through the door of the office where Brooks was hiding from the crowd and the reporters. Nanne was wearing his usual flashy clothes but he had a ski jacket tied around his midsection. “I got so excited,” Nanne said, “that I leaped out of my seat at the end of the game and ripped the seat of my pants.”

Soon-to-be 60-year-old columnist Sid Hartman, working the phones

John Mayasich, one of the stars of the 1960 U.S. Olympic hockey team that beat the Russians and won the gold medal, said the current American team faces a situation similar to the one his team encountered. “Now the Americans have to beat the Finns. And it won’t be any pushover,” Mayasich said.

Mayasich wouldn’t compare the two teams and their accomplishments but did say that “the players now are bigger, stronger, faster and the Olympic team has a lot more depth than we had. We needed good goaltending to win and Jack McCartan gave it to us. Jim Craig has done it for this team.”

What was Mayasich doing Friday night? He and Stan Hubbard, a longtime friend and ex-Gophers teammate, were coaching a bantam hockey team at a tournament in Roseville.

Elsewhere, compiled by Tribune reporters Gary Libman, Tom Sorensen and freelancer Brian Wicker

Residents of northern Minnesota, which supplied seven members of the 20-man U.S. team, gathered around radios in large numbers to listen to the U.S. victory.

“The parties are already starting,” said deputy sheriff Dennis Dagen of Warroad.

After the game, phone lines were jammed.

Bev Baker, 17, sister of Grand Rapids defenseman Bill Baker, said her family received congratulatory phone calls from North Carolina, California, Oklahoma, Chicago and Canada.

Dan Mramor, owner of the Little Wagon on S. 4th Street in Minneapolis, said neither the Gophers, Vikings, North Stars or even the bar’s own women’s softball team had ever gotten a crowd this excited.

“Gophers, Gophers, Gophers,” a man yelled. Nobody told him Eruzione was an eastern guy, a star at Boston University. At that point, nobody cared.”

NHL Scoreboard

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