Henry Boucha, Bill Christian, Dave Christian, Gordon Christian, Roger Christian, Alan Hangsleben, Gisele Marvin, Brock Nelson, and T.J. Oshie.
What do all these names have in common?
Reading the title, you can probably make an educated guess. All these former and current NHL players/Olympians are from a small town in Minnesota, “Warroad.” Yet how can a town that has only produced 5 NHL players and 7 Olympians be considered “Hockeytown, USA?” Well, in order to answer this question we must delve into the comparisons and numbers that allow Warroad to be a hockey centric town – and the word “town” actually holds quite a bit of weight in this argument.
According to the United States’ Census Bureau’s Population and Housing Estimates, Warroad had approximately 1,794 citizens in 2016. Meanwhile, the top U.S. city in producing NHL players (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota) has an estimated population of 3,551,036. While both areas are located in Minnesota, Warroad has produced 5 NHL players, and according to Alex Abboud of the Cities Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul has produced 23. Not only is the ratio of population to NHL players produced insane between the two, but Warroad also boasts over 80 collegiate hockey players to boot.
While the town is just 6 miles away from Canada’s border, the essence of America is not lost in this tiny town that has never broken 2,000 citizens. Owning the “Hockeytown, USA” moniker like a boss, the welcome sign for the town lists every NHL and Olympian star it has punched out of its almighty hockey factory. The gold medalists, the Olympic rink in town, the culture centering on hockey from those in the sunrise of their lives to those in the twilight all make Warroad the place to dream of for die-hard fans. Anyone can have Detroit, Boston, or Minneapolis, but to have that village tucked away in the corner of the nation, just bustling with energy and passion for the sport, makes it that much more worthwhile.
Warroad is small, but has not gone unnoticed. NBC Sports gave the nod of approval on a documentary (released February 23rd) that entails the inside of Hockeytown, USA. The people, the history, and the culture are detailed specifically in this half-hour special on Hockey America’s best kept secret. Click here to watch “The Road Through Warroad“.
So, as the big cities prevail, and Canada is considered the hub for hockey, let’s not keep Warroad a secret any longer. As it cultivates a town of passion for the game, remember the real “Hockeytown, USA.”