A History of Hockey in Minnesota


Stitched Panorama

Will Sherry

Hockey in Minnesota has a rich and storied history that spans over a century. The sport first began to gain popularity in the state in the late 19th century, and since then, it has grown to become one of the most beloved and widely played sports in Minnesota.

One of the early pioneers of hockey in Minnesota was a man named James E. Dougherty. In 1895, Dougherty formed the first organized hockey team in the state, called the St. Paul Athletic Club. This team played its first game against a team from Winnipeg, Canada, and although they lost, it was the beginning of hockey’s rise in popularity in Minnesota.

Over the next few decades, hockey continued to grow in popularity in the state, with teams popping up all over Minnesota. In 1922, the Minnesota Amateur Hockey Association (MAHA) was formed, which helped to standardize rules and regulations for the sport in the state. This helped to further solidify hockey’s place in Minnesota’s sports landscape.

In the 1940s and 1950s, hockey in Minnesota experienced a major boom in popularity. This was in part due to the success of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey team, which won several national championships during this time period. Additionally, the formation of the Minnesota North Stars in 1967 brought professional hockey to the state and provided Minnesotans with a team to root for at the professional level.

The North Stars played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for 26 seasons until 1993 when the team was moved to Dallas. However, the state did not have to wait long for another professional team as the Minnesota Wild joined the NHL as an expansion team in 2000. The Wild have been a successful team, making the playoffs several times and even reaching the conference finals twice.

Hockey in Minnesota has also produced many notable players who have gone on to successful careers in the NHL and internationally. Some of the most famous Minnesota-born hockey players include Neal Broten, Phil Housley, and Zach Parise. These players are not only successful on the ice but also have been ambassadors of the game, promoting hockey in the state and encouraging young players to pursue their dreams of playing professionally.

Hockey in Minnesota is not just limited to professional and college teams. The state also has a strong youth hockey program, with thousands of kids playing at the youth and high school levels. This strong youth program helps to ensure that hockey will continue to be a beloved sport in the state for many years to come. The Minnesota Hockey Association is the governing body that oversees youth hockey in the state and provides resources, coaching education, and support for players, coaches, and families.

In addition to the on-ice success, Minnesota has also been a leader in the development of facilities, arenas and infrastructure to support the growth of the game. The iconic Mariucci Arena on the University of Minnesota campus, the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, and the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center in Saint Cloud are just a few examples of the state-of-the-art facilities that have been built to support the growth of the game in the state.

Furthermore, Minnesota has also been a leader in promoting the sport to underprivileged communities and providing opportunities for everyone to play the game. Organizations like the Sled Hockey of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Warriors, have been instrumental in promoting the sport to players with disabilities, providing them with the opportunity to participate in hockey at the highest level.

In conclusion, hockey in Minnesota has a rich and storied history that spans over a century. From its humble beginnings with the formation of the St. Paul Athletic Club in 1895, to the formation of the Minnesota North Stars in 1967, and the Minnesota Wild in 2000, hockey has become a staple in the state of Minnesota.