After all the silliness about the Farmington goalie who acted out against his coaches and team on Tuesday night, it feels right to tell a story about the best hockey rivalry in Minnesota -- the twice-a-year battles between Roseau and Warroad, the northwestern Minnesota powers whose games attract attention well beyond their borders.
Minneapolis author John Rosengren recently took a trip to watch the two teams play at The Gardens in Warroad.
Rosengren begins: "Late on a January afternoon, a yellow school bus heads east on Minnesota State Route 11, the single artery just beneath the Canadian border that connects Roseau and Warroad, a place that the Ojibwe used to call Ka-beck-a-nung or the “Trail of War,” for the blood spilled there with the Sioux. It has since become Hockeytown, and the only battles are waged on ice between the Roseau Rams and Warroad Warriors, one of the greatest rivalries in sport."
We're not going to tell you much more. You probably don't know the final score and you certainly don't know the dramas that unfolded, on the ice and in the stands.
Much of the story focuses on the teams' goaltenders -- Ryan (Bob) Anderson of Roseau and Justin King of Warroad. Anderson's father played in the NHL; the King family is among those with bloodlines that run deep into Warroad hockey.
Jay Hardwick, the Warroad coach, tells Rosengren: “The rink is the hub of all the action. There’s always something going on there. If you ever need to talk to somebody, you more than likely run into them at the rink.”
The game is a big enough deal that Chuck Fletcher, the Wild general manager, and other team officials have flown into town on a private jet to watch. There is a sweet moment when the fathers of the two goalies chat before the game.
But that's enough. If reading about the Farmington deal made you feel bad, Rosengren's story will make you feel much better.
It'll take few minutes, but you won't be sorry. Read it here.
And if you want to know more about the author, go here.