Prep boys hockey: Hockey Day, Hermantown enjoy reunion after 13-year hiatus
The Hawks hosted the event in 2010, when current seniors were yet to start school and current head coach was running the shovel crew as a Bantam coach.
WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. — Minnesota Duluth’s Blake Biondi didn’t have much to do last Saturday.
The Bulldogs forward’s season was ended by a shoulder injury in December, so he did what hockey-loving fans from across the state did — he and his family traveled to White Bear Lake to watch Hermantown make its first appearance at the event since hosting in 2010.
Watching the Hawks overwhelm fourth-ranked Mahtomedi was particularly sweet for Biondi. He was the Hawks’ leading point-scorer when the Zephyrs downed Hermantown in the 2020 Class A championship 3-2, his final high school game.
Biondi is also one of the youngest Hermantown players who remembers the 2010 Hockey Day. Current Hawks seniors were 4 or 5 years old the last time the Hawks participated in the event and the 1 p.m. start time for the game gave him the opportunity to watch the Hawks and make it back to Duluth for the Bulldogs’ win over St. Cloud State on Saturday night .
“I was glad to get down here, my UMD team is playing St. Cloud tonight, so it’ll be good to run back up there and support the boys later tonight,” Biondi said Saturday. “Mahtomedi is a good little team right now and they’re giving Hermantown a good test, but I think we’re up on top right now.”
Thirteen years ago, Biondi was a Mite in the Hawks' youth program and Hermantown was still establishing itself as a state hockey power when it hosted Hockey Day. Current Hermantown head coach Pat Andrews was still coaching at the Bantam level and the Hawks had collected a single state championship. Biondi was a flag bearer at the 2010 event and current senior George Peterson played a Mite game between periods.
“I was running those yahoos on the shovel crew and it rained during the varsity game quite a bit,” Andrews said. “Then for the girls game, we were there shoveling because it snowed like 6 inches that night.”
Fast forward to 2023, the Hawks have collected three more state titles — including the 2022 Class A trophy — and have appeared in the state tournament 12 of the last 13 years.
The Hermantown program isn’t the only thing that’s grown since 2010. Much like the Hawks’ dominance, the size and scope of Hockey Day has only increased in the intervening years.
“I’m humbled by what this has become,” Andrews said. “Money-wise, I don’t remember exactly what our budget was, but we’re talking maybe $100,000 or something and now it’s in the millions. This is unbelievable, it’s really cool to see how it’s grown in 13 years — this is pretty amazing. We’re just so honored that they asked to be a part of it and to play Mahtomedi is a great treat too, we have such a good rivalry with them.”
Hockey Day Minnesota announced in August the 2024 edition will be hosted by Warroad and in 2025, Shakopee.