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.