Hockey Day Minnesota: The World's Best Tribute from the World's Greatest Fans

Nick MaxsonCorrespondent IJanuary 19, 2009

The state of Minnesota, along with the Minnesota Wild and Fox Sports North have once again teamed up to provide the most passionate hockey fans a dream come true, an entire day devoted to the game of hockey.

This tribute started a couple of years ago featuring high school, college, and professional hockey games all in one day. This year, both boys and girls high school hockey took to the ice both inside, and outdoors.

An outdoor rink built in Phalen Park in St. Paul hosted three high school hockey games. For many players, it all began outside learning to walk and skate at the same time.

Even for the girls, it was learning to play with their brothers and their fathers who love and enjoy the game so much, and it was their passion and love for the game that has made girls hockey spring on to the map in the state of hockey.

The NHL has its own version of this old time hockey with their annual "Winter Classic", which this year was hosted at a packed Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Detroit Red Wings won that game 6-4 over the Chicago Blackhawks.

As One Edina high school girls hockey player put it, playing outdoors brings back memories of the annual Christmas hockey game that she and her entire family would take part in.

It is that tradition of hockey built into every Minnesotan which makes this day so special. It's not just about watching hockey on the couch all day, but it's about family and the way hockey has been embedded into our lives through family and friends.

It was never more apparent just how the game of hockey brings everyone together than the opening activities for Hockey Day Minnesota which took place over 6,000 miles away in Iraq.

The 148th Fighter Wing of Duluth faced off against the 834th Aviation Support Battalion of St. Paul in a game of floor hockey from Iraq. Even with no ice and the crisp cold Minnesota air, the game of hockey brings a sense of home half-way around the globe.

This day reminds all hockey fans from around the globe the legacy this sport has brought to the state of Minnesota, and to all the fans who embrace it with all their hearts.

Hockey Day concluded with the Minnesota Wild facing the Anaheim Ducks at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul with the Ducks prevailing over the Wild 3-0.

Just like any loss in any sport, teammates and fans come together and keep their heads held high because there is always tomorrow and there is nothing more important then the support of your family, friends and teammates.

It is that sense of family that keeps the tradition of hockey going strong in Minnesota, and it is something everybody no matter if they like the sport or not to look at and marvel at just how a game can bring an entire state together.

As the Minnesota Wild's slogan states, we are the team of 18,000 but really we are a team of almost five million Minnesotan's who love and cherish this great game.

Hockey Day Minnesota although a recent tradition will be around for many years to come and it will be a standard for every other professional sport to watch in awe as one sport has united a state, and a state which will inspire the world.