Why Our Minnesota Hockey Teams are the Ones to Watch this Season

Minnesota Wild

Minnesota Wild

Seth Johnson, Staff Writer

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In recent years, some Minnesotans have expressed frustration that their hockey teams haven’t lived up to the expectations of our state’s moniker of “The State of Hockey.” Some Minnesota teams have struggled to find success in the past few years. However, the performances of the Minnesota Gophers, UMD Bulldogs, and Wild this year should quiet the naysayers for the time being.

The Golden Gophers’ women’s team has certainly lifted the bar, being conference regular season or conference tournament champions 10 of the last 15 years. They have also reached the Frozen Four an incredible 13 times since 2002 and won 6 national championships.  They also qualified for the semifinals of the NCAA tournament this year. The men’s team has also had recent success. They have won the conference regular season title 6 years in a row, though they haven’t had the same level of success in the postseason, only moving on to the Frozen Four 5 times since 2002 and failing to win the championship since 2003. While some fans are becoming annoyed at being knocked out of the playoffs early, the Gophers show no signs of slowing down. They had 12 players on the roster this past year who are now heading to the NHL, including All-American Tyler Sheehy.

The UMD Bulldogs have also had their fair share of accomplishments. The women have won 5 national titles since 2001, and the men won the title in 2011 and have reached the NCAA tournament 5 out of the last 7 seasons. They did reach the title game this year but lost to the number 1 overall seed, Denver, 3-2.

The Wild have been the target of the most fan frustration. The franchise is relatively new, established in 2000. Part of it may be lingering resentment from the “State of Hockey,” as the old team, the North Stars, was relocated to Dallas (of all places) in 1993. This left the state without a professional hockey team for nearly a decade. The Wild have appeared in the playoffs 7 times, but failed to advance to the Stanley Cup Final and only reached the Conference Finals once.

The team set records for wins and points this season under first-year head coach Bruce Boudreau and entered the playoffs as one of the favorites for the Cup due to their excellent regular season.

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