Hockey Day Minnesota dedicated to Jablonski

Hockey Day Minnesota dedicated to Jablonski

Published Jan. 20, 2012 8:45 a.m. ET

If you enjoy the sport of hockey, this Saturday’s sixth-annual Hockey Day Minnesota is circled on your calendar.

FOX Sports North, in partnership with the Minnesota Wild and Wells Fargo, will broadcast 16 consecutive hours of hockey coverage starting at 9 a.m. The big day includes three high school games from Lake Minnetonka, Colorado College vs. the University of Minnesota from Mariucci Arena and the Dallas Stars vs. the Minnesota Wild from Xcel Energy Center. Throughout the day and into the night, viewers will be treated to outstanding game action and some amazing stories from all over the State of Hockey.

Because of the recent stretch of warm weather in the Twin Cities – never mind the last couple days -- the three high school games have been moved indoors to the Pagel Activity Center, which is located at Minnetonka High School.

Hockey Day Minnesota began in January 2007 on the shores of Baudette Bay near Lake of the Woods and returned to the same venue in 2008. HDM moved to the Twin Cities for the first time in 2009, and Hermantown, just outside of Duluth, was the hub city in 2010. Last year, warm weather and bright sunshine were in attendance in Moorhead.

This year’s HDM has special meaning because it will be dedicated to Jack Jablonski, the Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School player who suffered a spinal cord injury in a game last month and was paralyzed. An all-day telethon beginning at 9 a.m. will raise money for the Jack Jablonski Trust Fund, which is set up through Wells Fargo. Operators will be at Xcel Energy Center to take donations, and fans throughout the State of Hockey and beyond will be encouraged to call the number on the screen to donate.

"2012 marks our sixth annual Hockey Day Minnesota event with the Minnesota Wild,” said Mike Dimond, senior vice president and general manager of FOX Sports North. “It's been a real privilege to build this event with the Wild over the years, and I have countless Hockey Day memories that I cherish. This year is sure to be extra special, extra memorable, since we're dedicating the day to Jack Jablonski. Our team at FOX Sports North is honored to be able to tell his story and use our platform to help raise funds for the Jablonski family."

The action on the ice figures to be terrific this year as both boys games feature teams with state tournament potential. In the 10 a.m. game, Grand Rapids (11-5-0) will face White Bear Lake (8-7-1).

"Hockey Day Minnesota is such a fantastic event, and I know our kids are really pumped to be a part of the festivities," White Bear Lake coach Tim Sager said.

At 1:30 p.m., Minnetonka (15-1-0) will take on Duluth East (17-0-0), the top-ranked team in Class AA.

”It's going to be a tremendous day of hockey, and we are looking forward to hosting here in Minnetonka,” Skippers coach Brian Urick said. “Our game features two really talented hockey teams that both skate well and can move the puck. We are all very excited right now."

The 4 p.m. girls high school game (which will be shown on tape delay at 11 p.m.) features crosstown rivals Minnetonka (13-1-1) and Hopkins (14-7-1). The Skippers are the defending Class AA state champions, and coach Eric Johnson is looking forward to Saturday.

"This is such a great opportunity for our teams to showcase what a great game girls hockey is here in Minnesota,” he said. “We are just thrilled to be a part of Hockey Day."

At 5 p.m., the Gophers will host Colorado College in Game 2 of a critical WCHA weekend series, but the game will go beyond conference importance for many Gophers who grew up in the state.

"I remember watching these games a few years ago, and then having the chance to play up in Hermantown was really cool,” Gophers freshman forward Kyle Rau said. “Hockey Day is like a holiday for everyone that loves the game. You can’t beat it.”

At 8 p.m., the Wild and Stars will square off in an important Western Conference battle. Moorhead native and Wild forward Matt Cullen enjoys watching and playing in this event.

"Hockey Day is a terrific celebration of the game for everyone -- from the little kids all the way up to us big kids playing the the NHL,” he said. “It was pretty special to see Moorhead featured last year, and I'm sure the folks in Minnetonka will put on a great show this weekend."

Saturday’s schedule
(All High School Games moved indoors to the Pagel Activity Center-Minnetonka)
White Bear Lake vs. Grand Rapids (Boys) – 10 a.m.
Minnetonka vs. Duluth East (Boys) – 1:30 p.m.
Minnetonka vs. Hopkins (Girls) – 4 p.m. (FSN will show this game at 11 p.m. via tape delay)
University of Minnesota vs. Colorado College at Mariucci Arena – 5 p.m.
Minnesota Wild vs. Dallas Stars at Xcel Energy Center – 8 p.m.