Minneapolis won the Schwan Cup Open Division title by beating Bloomington Kennedy 3-1 on Friday. Photo by Loren Nelson
The city of Minneapolis has a proud, storied hockey history, especially at the high school level, where state championships and cross-town rivalries were once the talk of the Minneapolis hockey scene.
But over the past two decades, circumstances had gradually changed. Fewer bodies for a variety of reasons left each Minneapolis school wondering what it would do about the future of its hockey program.
As numbers were dwindling, an executive decision was made – combine all the schools and play as one Minneapolis program to save public school hockey in the city and start a new tradition.
Initially, at least in some circles, the move was an unpopular one, because it took away from the historic rivalries that had developed in Minneapolis over the years.
“There used to be an East-West rivalry, and that always used to get all the fans and it was rowdy,” said Minneapolis forward Joe Guimont. “Once we became the Novas we lost a bit of that fan support.”
That loss of fan support has gotten the attention of the players for the Novas, especially before the Schwan Cup Open Division tournament.
Minneapolis' Tony Pnewski fires a shot at Bloomington Kennedy goaltender David Johnson. Photo by Loren Nelson
“We had to prove ourselves with this tournament because we started the year kind of slow,” Guimont said. “We knew that if we won this tournament then we’d get some of that fan support back.”
Minneapolis did win the tournament, locking up the hardware with a 3-1 win over Bloomington Kennedy on Friday, Dec. 28. The impact on fan support isn’t likely to be realized until a few weeks from now, but the attitude surrounding the program has never been this positive.
The Novas believe that if the victories, trophies and fan support come, so too will another key ingredient – the best players.
“I hope [this win helps the program],” Minneapolis forward Henry Christman said. “We have a couple guys coming from the Bantam A program, but some guys are leaving. It’s kind of a shame, all these guys leaving to go play for private schools.”
Private schools have been one factor to the smaller numbers in the Minneapolis public school programs, and, now that all the schools are combined, the battle on numbers has shifted from the other issues to the singular concern of private vs. public.
“We have youth kids that are always going to private schools and we miss a lot of good kids,” Guimont said. “Winning [the Schwan Cup], I have a feeling that a lot of the youth kids will be coming to our games. We have games were kids come its almost ‘if Minneapolis wins, I want to play there, and if the other team wins, I want to go to that school.’
“We want them to come to Minneapolis.”
Minneapolis scored three times in the first period – two of which came off the stick of forward Henry Christman – and held on to beat Bloomington Kennedy 3-1 in the Schwan Cup Open Division title game on Friday, Dec. 28 at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
Christman opened the scoring with a one-timer goal just 4 minutes, 12 seconds into the contest. Then, just three minutes later, Stellan Christensen knocked home a rebound for the eventual game-winning goal.
A Joe Guimont feed allowed Christman to net his second goal of the night on a tic-tac-toe play, and that proved to be more than enough for the Novas.
Jacob O’Keefe scored the lone goal for the Eagles (6-5-0).
JT Mosely got the start and win between the pipes for Minneapolis, finishing with 15 saves.
Guimont and defenseman Ian Whitehead each had a pair of assists for Minneapolis (7-3-1).
-- Zack Friedli, MN Hockey Hub staff
3. Joe Guimont, Minneapolis
Between Guimont and Christman, the Eagles had plenty to worry about. Although he didn’t find the back of the net, Guimont was instrumental in the Minneapolis attack, and two of his perfect passes led to one-timer goals for the Novas.
-- Zack Friedli, MN Hockey Hub staff