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Hockey Day Minnesota saw record low temps, but good attendance

Lumberjack hockey cheerleaders and fans cheer on the Bemidji High School boys hockey team against Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin during Hockey Day Minnesota’s final matchup in Bemidji on Saturday. Jillian Gandsey / Forum News Service

BEMIDJI — The 13th annual Hockey Day Minnesota event in Bemidji had, fittingly, more than 13,000 attendees last week.

According to organizing committee member Brian Bissonette, over the three days of hockey-related festivities, a total of 13,400 people attended the event.

Of the total estimate, organizers said about 3,300 fans attended Thursday night’s game where the Bemidji High School girls faced off with Woodbury, and 4,200 fans saw the Friday night men’s hockey overtime win by Bemidji State over Michigan Tech.

On Saturday, an estimated 6,200 fans came through the gates for No. 1 Minnetonka vs. No. 2 Andover in boys hockey, Bemidji State vs. Minnesota State University - Mankato in women’s hockey and the grand outdoor finale of Bemidji High School vs. Greenway-Nashwauk/Keewatin in boys hockey.

“That estimate is based on tickets sold and the number of credentials provided,” Bissonette said. “It’s a best guess, but we’re pretty confident that’s where we’re at.”

Hockey Day Minnesota is yearly event by the Minnesota Wild and Fox Sport North. Every year, the event rotates to different host communities and features outdoor hockey games, usually between high school teams.

In 2018, Hockey Day was held in St. Cloud and Bissonette said an estimated 8,000 fans were in attendance on the Saturday last year when high school teams took the ice.

“Our Saturday is a little bit lower, and I think we all know what the reason for that might be,” Bissonette said, referring to the week’s subzero temperatures. “They had 38 degree weather in 2018 and they had a lot of walk-up sales, but when looking at the pre-sales, we were pretty similar with St. Cloud.”

Bemidji’s Hockey Day was the coldest on record; the temperature was 26 below zero when the puck dropped for Saturday’s first game.

Still, Saturday’s attendance in Bemidji came in ahead of the 2017 Hockey Day when it was held in Stillwater. According to Hockey Day Minnesota’s social media, Stillwater had more than 5,000 fans in attendance.

“We’re just ecstatic on how the whole thing turned out,” Bissonette said. “It could not have gone much better.”