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Minnesota Sports Memories: Doug Woog

Posted on by Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Breck players celebrating after winning the Minnesota Boys Hockey State Tournament Class A championship game against Warroad, 7-3 in St. Paul.

Hannah Foslien, American, born 1984, Untitled, 2009. Archival inkjet print (printed 2011). Courtesy of the Associated Press.

“I was in ninth grade at South St. Paul when I first went to the State High School Hockey Tournament. Eight teams throughout the state were invited. To get there was the ultimate goal. The prize was the cherry on the soda.

The tournament was important to the townspeople. They came down in caravans. Last one out, turn out the lights. Because your hockey program was developed by the people of your town. It brought your hometown together, brought your school together. Pride in the school.

The coaches, peewee to bantam, were running outdoor practices at seven and nine o’clock at night. Not much glory in it. Probably got $500–600 a year. And it was damned cold. But they were prominent people in town. They and the mayor.

So the state tournament was like David and Goliath, with Warroad, Roseau, Hibbing [as the] Davids, and city high schools like Minneapolis’s Roosevelt and St. Paul Johnson [as the] Goliaths.

You played whoever the draw was. People would come all day: two afternoon sessions, two evening sessions. It was an opportunity to show your talent to the Harvards of the world—to recruiters—to get a chance at a scholarship.

I got there four times in four years. I played center. We stayed at the St. Paul Hotel. Jaycee sponsors took care of us.

One night we got beat 1-0 in the finals. A shutout. There had to be 4,000 people who gave us a standing ovation. That’s the moment. That’s the moment.

Ask any of those players who went professional, like Neal Broten, and they’ll say the highlight of their sporting career was the State Hockey Tournament, second Olympics, third NHL.”

—Doug Woog, coach of University of Minnesota Gophers men’s hockey team (1985–99), member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame (2002)

What’s your favorite Minnesota sports memory? Share it in the comments below.

Be sure to catch “The Sports Show” and “The Sports Show: Minnesota” at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, through May 13 and September 2, respectively.

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