Saturday was a beautiful winter day in Minnesota with warm mild temperatures and a day filled with hockey. The host site for HDM 2015 was Holman Air Field in St. Paul. Holman Field is home to the Minnesota Army National Guard and the whole day was a tribute to the troops and a celebration of hockey.
They built an ice rink on the tarmac and had downtown St. Paul as the backdrop for the three outdoor high school games. The Minnesota National Guard also had a C-130 and Blackhawk & Chinook helicopters parked near the makeshift stadium. Even during play, the active airfield had planes arriving and departing. It made for a really awesome day.
But there were also events held the night before. The Minnesota Warriors, a hockey team made up of former U.S. military personnel that were wounded, injured, or otherwise disabled, played the Buffalo Sabres Warriors in a game. The Minnesota Warriors organization is a fantastic organization for disabled vets looking to play hockey with other fellow vets. They played under the lights and in the near 30 degree temperatures, and having the game held at Holman Field was a special moment for many of them.
Also, the St. Paul police and fire departments faced-off in a friendly game dubbed "Guns & Hoses." With a military ID, personnel were able to gain entrance to Preview night free. The night was capped off when the MN National Guard took on the Canadian Armed Forces all the way from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
In conjunction with the Serving Our Troops, Fox Sports North broadcasted the whole day of events over the American Forces Network to Minnesota soldiers across the World. Serving Our Troops brought steak dinner from Mancini's, a St. Paul mainstay, to Camp Buehring in Kuwait. Former North Stars Lou Nanne, Tom Reid, and Bill Butters, former NHLer Shjon Podein, Herb Brooks' brother Dave Brooks, FSN's Jamie Hersch, KFAN Radio's Dan Barreiro all made the trek to Kuwait to take in the day's festivities with the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade. It was a really, really cool thing to do to pay tribute to our service men and women.
I received a cache of pictures from the MN National Guard and Mike Zipko of Serving Our Troops, one of the event organizers of Hockey Day Minnesota. He is letting me publish these photos for all your viewing pleasure. I want to thank him and his team of photographers a ton for allowing us to use these photos that the SOT took.