2014 Hockey Hotdish Tournament


Welcome to the 2014 Hockey Hotdish Tournament. This annual competition determines what Minnesota player coach, arena and mascot best represent the State of Hockey. Sixty-four entries have been selected and seeded in four brackets: Beauty (players), Bench Boss (coaches), Barn (arenas) and Big Head (mascot). The winners of each bracket will face off in the Hockey Hotdish Tournament Finals to determine who or what is the best ambassador for hockey in Minnesota.

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This month's cover: July 10, 2014

Click the image above for a PDF of this month's cover of Let's Play Hockey

Vanek feels at home with Wild


By Mike Doyle

With the ink still drying on his new three-year contract with the Minnesota Wild, Thomas Vanek slipped on a Forest Green sweater for the first time and addressed the media at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday, July 1.

While typically free agents have to hold their introductory pressers via phone, it wasn’t hard for Vanek to get to the arena. The former University of Minnesota star has lived in the State of Hockey since leaving the Golden Gophers for the NHL nine seasons ago. Now, the 30-year-old will remain in Minnesota year-round as the newest member of the Wild, and his exhilaration was palpable.

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Enjoying the journey paid off for Matt Niskanen


By Mark Manney
MHCA Vice President
Andover High School Head Boys’ Hockey Coach

Matt Niskanen was sitting in Keith Hendrickson’s office in the summer before his senior year of high school. Niskanen, a prized defenseman for Hendrickson’s Virginia/Mountain Iron-Buhl Blue Devils, had committed to playing hockey for the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs after graduation, and he had a dilemma.  Niskanen had reached a crossroads that he never envisioned and he needed help.

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The Micheletti family: Great hockey players, even better people


By Allison Micheletti

In an age where the average family consists of four to five members, it is hard to imagine growing up in a family of 11. Even more challenging to think about is how to fit 11 people into a four-bedroom house. The Micheletti family of Hibbing, Minn., was up to the task.

The parents, Americo and Mary, claimed a bedroom upstairs. Jean and Andrea, the two sisters of the nine children, shared a room. The boys all had rooms in the basement, with the oldest boy in the house at the time residing in a single room to himself, and the rest of the boys sharing a larger room.

Read more: The Micheletti family: Great hockey players, even better people