Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hockey Day Minnesota: Hill-Murray Pioneers

by Jeff Fisher
Host, NHSCA Sports Hour

As a young 11-year old boy growing-up in Pennsylvania I loved the Philadelphia Flyers as they evolved into the Stanley Cup champion Broad Street Bullies.

Learning the great game imported from the north was fun.  At one point, I even thought hockey was only played in Canada until it was time for the players to move on to the NHL.  I didn't stop to think that the game was being played in the Lower 48 by high schoolers.

Then there was the little miracle in Lake Placid, and I was suddenly aware of the passion for the game in Massachusetts and Minnesota.

I guess that's why it was so much fun to talk high school hockey on the show today.  157 schools play hockey in the state of 1,000 lakes.

Bill Lechner, who is the head hockey coach at Hill-Murray School in St. Paul, joined Trish and myself to talk about his school's success, plus hockey day in Minnesota yesterday.

The Pioneers are one of the top team's in the state.  H-M has three state championship banners hanging in its rink, plus two others as an independent school before private schools were integrated into the state athletic association tournament.

Hill-Murray has had six Pioneers, who have gone on to the NHL...three have been Olympians.  Alum Steve Janaszak, who was the back-up goaltender to Jim Craig, was a member of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team.

On Saturday, over 4,000 high school hockey fans watched Lechner's team beat Moorhead 3-2 in a game that was played outside as part of Hockey Day in Minnesota.  Click here to read how the state's #1 AA team improved to 19-3-1.

Hockey Day in Minnesota, created by the NHL's Minnesota Wild, just celebrated its fifth anniversary.  It began with Wayzata High School facing Roseau in the morning at Moorhead, followed by the H-M/Moorhead.  It then moved to a game between the University in Minnesota and Denver.  The day was capped-off with a game between the Wild and St. Louis.

To learn more about Hill-Murray, click here to go to the Pioneers website.

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