Has it been nine years already?
The ninth annual Hockey Day Minnesota, a joint promotion between Fox Sports North and the Wild, takes place Saturday. It starts with three outdoor high school games at St. Paul’s Holman Field airport, followed by the Gophers hosting Wisconsin in men’s hockey and the Wild taking on Arizona at Xcel Energy Center.
The location of the high school games — a refrigerated rink on the tarmac at Holman Field, just south of downtown St. Paul — is because Hockey Day Minnesota has joined with Serving Our Troops, a group of local community and business leaders who support the military stationed overseas by providing steak dinners.
Holman Field is the base for the Minnesota National Guard 34th Combat Aviation Brigade and the 2-147th Assault Helicopter Battalion, both of which deployed to Kuwait in 2014.
The first two games are boys’ hockey: Luverne vs. St. Paul Johnson, 10 a.m., and Hill-Murray vs. St. Thomas Academy, 1:30 p.m. At 3:30 p.m., it’s Duluth Northern Stars vs. Cretin-Derham Hall in girls’ hockey.
All three games will be on Fox Sports North, with the girls’ game being shown on tape delay after the Wild game.
Other metro events of note this week:
Tuesday: Champlin Park at Armstrong, 7 p.m. Top-ranked Champlin Park (14-0) in Class 4A has certainly looked the part of the state’s best team, with victories over Hopkins, Cretin-Derham Hall and Apple Valley. No. 5 Armstrong (11-1) may be one of the few that can match the Rebels athletically.
Saturday: Maranatha at Minneapolis North, 3 p.m. If not for both teams being in Section 4 of Class 1A, this could be billed as a possible state championship preview. No. 1-ranked North lost to Maranatha, currently No. 2 in Class 1A, in the 2014 section finals.
Tuesday: Minnetonka at Orono, 7:15 p.m. Orono coach Ellen Wiese said the Spartans (14-0), ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, view this game as a true barometer of their strength. The depth and height of Class 4A, No. 2 Minnetonka (12-1) will create matchup problems.
Thursday: Maple Grove at Minnetonka. 7 p.m. Maple Grove, No. 2 in Class 2A, puts its undefeated record (17-0-1) on the line. Minnetonka, ranked third, has lost two of its past four games, both to Eden Prairie.