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The great(er) Minnesota get-together

By DAVID LA VAQUE, Star Tribune, 03/05/15, 11:30AM CST


The tournament is an annual homecoming and reunion

David La Vaque has covered all but one state hockey tournament game since 2009 and has worked as a Star Tribune high school sports reporter since 2004. His favorite tournament experiences include cheering for alma mater St. Paul Johnson in 1991 and staying for most of the Apple Valley/Duluth East marathon semifinal game in 1996. Loren Nelson has covered every state tournament since 2009 as the national media editor for Sport Ngin. He attended many, many other Tourney games as a high schooler from the far northern reaches of Minnesota making the annual pilgrimage south to the old St. Paul Civic Center in the 1980s.

Before a full day of watching Class 2A hockey quarterfinals from the Al Shaver press box, I enjoy walking the Xcel Energy Center concourse to see who I will meet.

Not might, mind you, but will. See, that’s part of what makes the tournament special. It’s a reunion, a homecoming, a reason to excuse oneself from work or school.

In just 20 minutes Thursday morning, I spent quality time with an old high school friend, shook hands with Patricia Malmquist, whose son, Dylan, is Edina’s best player, said hello to former Pioneer Press scribe Gregg Wong, waved to a stylist from my barber shop and handed off tickets to my cousin’s son.

I am just one of a thousand such stories. There were grandfathers hugging grandsons, women of various generations doing the same and Edina high school girls’ clad in Army fatigues taking a more challenging selfie with one of those expensive, Nikon-type cameras.

Dreams are pursued on the ice. Rich memories are made and shared everywhere else.

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