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Hockey Day likely headed to Duluth's Bayfront Park

Grand Rapids and Benilde-St. Margaret's play during Hockey Day Minnesota events on Pokegama Lake at the Pokegama Golf Course in Grand Rapids on Jan. 19, 2013. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Hockey Day appears destined for Duluth. Sources have confirmed to the News Tribune that local organizers are working with Fox Sports North and the Minnesota Wild to finalize details on an agreement that brings the state’s wildly popular one-day celebration of all things puck-related to Bayfront Festival Park on Feb. 6, 2016. Tentatively, there will be two host schools — Denfeld and East — as the city’s rich hockey tradition is put on display for the entire State of Hockey, and beyond. Opponents for the Hunters and Greyhounds are being finalized. Duluth’s bid to host Hockey Day Minnesota came to life about two years ago when members of the Piedmont Hockey Association and Glen Avon Hockey Club collaborated to get the ball rolling. Their initial proposal included three prospective sites — Bayfront, Wade Stadium and Central High School. A venue that has played host to Rick Springfield and Trampled by Turtles concerts in the past week alone, though, was too good to pass up. It is believed that the rink will be constructed directly in front of the performance stage, with the Heritage Center serving as an indoor backup plan in case of uncooperative weather. 2016 marks the 10th annual Hockey Day Minnesota, which has all but morphed into a statewide holiday. FSN provides almost around-the-clock programming, including the prep games, meaning countless viewers could be treated to stunning visuals of Bayfront, with the Duluth harbor, Lake Superior, the Aerial Lift Bridge and the snowy hillside serving as a backdrop. And while it’s officially a one-day get-together, expect a full week of festivities across the city leading up to Feb. 6, with a focus on spotlighting Duluth’s more than 800 youth hockey players. The event returns to the Northland for the first time since Grand Rapids hosted on Pokegama Lake in 2013. A slushy Hermantown did the same in 2010. The first two Hockey Days, in 2007 and 2008, were played on Baudette Bay in Baudette, Minn. A year ago, St. Paul’s Holman Field Airport hosted. Also on Feb. 6, the Minnesota Duluth men will host NCHC rival Colorado College at Amsoil Arena, a stone’s throw from the makeshift prep setup. An official announcement from FSN and the Wild is expected later this month.

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