In early March each year, Minnesotans head to St. Paul’s Excel Center or gather around the TV for an event steeped in tradition: “The Tourney” – The Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament.
At this time of year, even if you’re just half paying attention, you’re bound to hear:
- A reference to Minnesota hockey being like basketball to Indiana or football to Texas – or both.
- Lou Nanne – the former NHL player and general manager has been in the broadcast booth for the Tourney the past 50 years. If the average Minnesotan knows more about hockey than most, you have to give partial credit to Mr. Nanne. This year Lou did color commentary with NHL play-by-play man Gary Thorne. Nanne’s grandson Tyler Nanne scored 4 goals for Edina, the eventual big class champion, at a tournament game this year.
- References to when small northern Minnesota towns like Warroad (population 1,722 with 5 state titles) or Roseau (population 2,879 with 7 state titles) make the tournament, the whole town closes down and flocks to St. Paul in buses to support their team.
- Testimonies to the Tourney being what every young hockey player dreams of when they first lace up the skates and play pond hockey. Heck, Herb Brooks said that the biggest hockey highlight of his life was winning the high school tournament with his St. Paul Johnson team in 1955, not coaching the gold medal-winning 1980 USA hockey team in Lake Placid.
But, the “Funniest Five Minutes in Hockey” comes together when Pulltab Productions releases its YouTube video of the “All Hockey Hair Team.” You see, when teams are introduced before the game, players skate out to the blue line and have the opportunity to say “Hi Mom” and showcase their hockey hair, or “flow,” to make an impression.
The droll Pulltab Productions’ announcer has a way of honoring the participants and their hair choices, and this year has taken a historic look back at past winners. An attempt was made to honor hockey hair for girls but was deemed too challenging. Apparently there was too much sports wrap used and too many braids.
Some of the announcer’s observations include:
- “This is a huge year, with only two private schools, I knew the flow would be flyin’.”
- “Even though Orono lost, I’m pretty sure the sun will come out tomorrow.” (Commenting on a red-headed player’s afro-like hair).
- “I tried a lot of stuff, a lot of it different work.” (referencing the announcer’s attempt to cash in on his 15 minutes of fame with a “Hockey Hair Day Run”).