When it comes to hockey origin stories, Orono junior defenseman Brody Finnegan has a tough one to top.

Finnegan learned to play the game in Dubai, one of the seven United Arab Emirates, with the SandStorms Youth Ice Hockey Club. He learned to skate at Al Nasr LeisureLand and traveled to play youth tournaments throughout Europe.

Now he will join the No. 4 seed Spartans in the quarterfinals against Northfield at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Xcel Energy Center. And when he plays, Finnegan will become the fourth member of his family to reach a hockey state tournament.

His father, K.C., and uncle Shannon, graduates of the former Henry Sibley (now Two Rivers), went in 1997 and 1993, respectively. And younger sister Bella took part in the past two girls hockey state tournaments with Minnetonka.

K.C. and his wife, Jessica, met at West Point, served in the Army and spent a decade in Dubai. They brought Brody (then 4), Bella (3) and youngest child Jack (2) along and got connected with Ron Murphy, whom K.C. called "a pillar of hockey in Dubai" and a major influence on his children's hockey aspirations.

About four years ago, the family moved back to Minnesota. K.C. said his children, after dealing with limits on ice time in the desert, worked to improve their skating to help with the transition to varsity hockey.

Brody Finnegan has been on a tear the past month, scoring four of his five goals on the season in the past five games.

Say uncle

The undefeated Warriors, led by coach Jay Hardwick, feature several family connections. His son Will is a junior defenseman.

But a more uncommon bond belongs to high-scoring linemates Jayson Shaugabay and Shaugabay's nephew, Carson Pilgrim.

Yes, nephew.

On defense, Warroad has the "Twins," Ryan Lund (6-3, 205 pounds) and Erick Comstock (5-7, 165). Their shared nickname is a reference to the 1988 movie co-starring the stacked Arnold Schwarzenegger and diminutive Danny DeVito.

Northfield's long journey

Since making their state tournament debut in 2017, the Northfield Raiders have been jostled around by section placement, reclassification, a plague and regular old hockey struggles.

First came a two-season move from Section 1 to 4, a geographical head-scratcher. Then Northfield got reclassified by the Minnesota State High School League to play among the larger schools by enrollment in Class 2A. Bounced in the section quarterfinals by Lakeville North in 2020, the Raiders didn't even get that far in 2021. COVID-19 forced them to forfeit.

Finally back in the proper class and section last season, Northfield suffered an upset loss in overtime to a sub-.500 New Prague team in the semifinals. A rematch in the Section 1 final this year ended with a 6-0 Raiders romp.

No. 5 seed Northfield takes on No. 4 seed Orono at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Alexandria reboot

Returning 12 players from a 20-victory state tournament team, Alexandria coach Josh Meyers welcomed high expectations for the 2022-23 season.

What the Cardinals got instead was an 0-7 start to the season, which turned into 1-9 and then 2-10-1. Finally, Alexandria caught fire in mid-January. The Cardinals won six consecutive games.

Resiliency served them well in the Section 6 championship game. Fergus Falls held leads of 2-0, 3-1 and 4-3 but couldn't shake the determined Alexandria squad, which ultimately prevailed 5-4 in overtime.