Kernz and Kompany helps put together annual All-Star GameAmsoil Arena will be the place to be on Tuesday night for the 14th annual St. Luke’s Orthopedic & Sports Medicine High School Hockey All-Star Game. The night begins with a skills competition at 5:15 and an opening faceoff at 7:15.
Amsoil Arena will be the place to be on Tuesday night for the 14th annual St. Luke’s Orthopedic & Sports Medicine High School Hockey All-Star Game.
The night begins with a skills competition at 5:15 and an opening faceoff at 7:15. Tickets will be available the night of the game at Amsoil Arena.
Duluth-based Kernz and Kompany has been instrumental in the All-Star game since 1999, when the game included only seniors from Duluth against seniors from the Iron Range, President Ryan Kern said.
The first event was held at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and drew 1,400 spectators, he said. “The game was only a single contest, with the winner of the event taking home the ‘Minnesota Heritage Trophy,’ which was a trophy given to us by Dick Stewart of Stewart’s Wheeled Goods that he had laying around in the store.”
Kern said Stewart was the event’s first sponsor and provided the biggest trophy he could find around his store. Taking it home was the Duluth team — or more precisely, the Greater Duluth team, which was led by natives of Hermantown and Proctor.
In 2000, a new trophy was created, dubbed the ‘Dick Stewart Cup’ in honor of the first sponsor.
“That cup has every player’s name etched onto a plaque that is then screwed onto the cup from the winning team,” Kern said. “So in essence, you can look at the cup and see the names of all of the players who won the cup, just like the Stanley Cup, since 1999. As is tradition, only the winning team and their coaches can drink from the cup. We fill the cup with a non-alcoholic beverage and they each drink from it in the locker room.”
The game has evolved over 14 years, including instituting a home-and-home series with a Duluth-area rink hosting one game and a Range city hosting another. The home-and-home series lasted from 2002 to 2010.
Last season, it returned to a one-game format that was played at Amsoil Arena, which Kern described as going all-out.
“We felt that we wanted to give the kids the best possible experience and provide the largest stage we could,” he said. “However, the costs associated with renting the Amsoil with all of its bells and whistles made it difficult to continue the series. We felt by consolidating all of our resources into one venue we could make the experience for all involved even better.”
The response was so positive, he said, that Amsoil Arena got the nod to host it for the second year in a row.
In order to make the All-Star Game roster, juniors and senior must be nominated by their own coaching staff. Once all the nominations are complete, Kernz and Kompany compiles the nominations and sends them to the coaches to vote on. At this point, coaches are not allowed to vote for their own player.
Once voting is complete, teams are made up of the top two goalies, top six defenseman and top nine forwards, making three full lines.
The Duluth teams currently hold an advantage in the Dick Stewart Cup standings with nine wins of a possible 13.
Skills tested in the competition closely mimic those of the National Hockey League. But Kern said the competition will always keep the track of the fastest skater, hardest shot and shot accuracy. The records of those skills have been kept since 1999. It’s also expanded beyond just Duluth and Iron Range players to include teams from elsewhere in Northern Minnesota. Past players have come from Warroad, Roseau, Brainerd and Bemidji.
Duluthian Sarah Packingham writes a weekly sports column for the Budgeteer. Contact her at sarah.packingham@ gmail.com.