Minnesota Wild Assistant Coaches Scott Stevens and John Anderson along with mascot Nordy and members of the Wild game night staff pose with Roseville and Stillwater 12 & Under teams following their game Tuesday night in Stillwater.
MINNESOTA WILD, MINNESOTA HOCKEY PARTNER TO SURPRISE
TWO YOUTH TEAMS WITH FIRST-EVER YOUTH HOCKEY SPOTLIGHT
STILLWATER, Minn. - The Minnesota Wild, in partnership with Minnesota Hockey, surprised two local girls hockey teams from Roseville and Stillwater that squared off in a 12 & Under game tonight in Stillwater.
As part of a new initiative called the Minnesota Wild Youth Hockey Spotlight, the Wild implemented many of its traditional NHL game elements into the matchup in order to create a one-of-a-kind experience for kids and spread the fan experience beyond the confines of the Xcel Energy Center.
"The Minnesota Wild Youth Hockey Spotlight was designed to celebrate youth hockey and put smiles on kids' faces," said Minnesota Wild Director of Marketing Partnerships Wayne Petersen. "It's our mission to find ways to create a greater State of Hockey and we hope we achieved that today."
When the teams entered their respective locker rooms upon arriving at the St. Croix Valley Rec Center, they were greeted to custom name plates just like those used in the Wild locker room, State of Hockey duffle bags and Wild-FOX Sports North branded water bottles set at each stall.
As the teams took the ice, they skated out to the Minnesota Wild's warmup music played by Wild Game Presentation Manager Paul Loomis. Wild assistant coaches John Anderson and Scott Stevens stood at each team bench serving as guest coaches for the game. Adam Abrams, the familiar in-arena announcer for Wild games, introduced both teams before Wild anthem singer James Bohn delivered the National Anthem. Mascot Nordy served as the game's State of Hockey flag bearer and Wild radio analyst and Minnesota North Stars legend Tom Reid proclaimed the traditional "Let's Play Hockey!" call to start the game.
In a special moment, two uncles of players representing each team who have served in the military were recognized as Guardians of the Game. When Lt. Col. Josh Ligday stepped onto the ice, uncle of Stillwater player Kylie Ligday, it was especially moving as he is currently on active duty. Ligday is very close to her uncle.
"I was surprised that he came all this way from California," said the younger Ligday. "I'll remember how many people came, how my uncle was there and how much fun I had."
FOX Sports North rink side reporter Kevin Gorg served as in-arena host and the Wild broadcast partner supplied a camera crew to capture the evening's festivities. The Wild also incorporated some of its traditional in-game contests and activities for the crowd to enjoy.
Coaches, parents, schools and hockey associations for both programs were in on the surprise, but managed to keep it under wraps until the girls arrived at the Stillwater arena.
"It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me as a coach, and just looking back at what that would've been like as a youth player, I'm assuming they had a really good time," said Stillwater Head Coach Katie Frischmann. "It was a lot of fun to see them come into the rink super confused about what was happening. We're all really grateful they had the opportunity to do this today."
"The Minnesota Wild continues to put its stamp on all aspects of the State of Hockey," said Minnesota Hockey Executive Director Glen Andresen. "A night like this is something these kids will remember forever, and it's amazing to think of how many youth hockey players have been affected positively by the Wild in some way. There isn't a better place to play hockey than in Minnesota, and there's no better supporter of grass roots hockey than the Minnesota Wild."
The Wild has plans to host one more Youth Hockey Spotlight this season. Details, of course, will be kept confidential until that day.
The Wild and FOX Sports North will be back in Stillwater on January 21 for the 11th annual Wells Fargo Hockey Day Minnesota, which will be headquartered from an outdoor rink specially constructed in Lowell Park. The backdrop will feature the historic lift bridge and the scenic St. Croix River Valley. For more information, visit wild.com/hockeyday.
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