John's Journal
Hockey History Is Made In Downtown St. Paul1/5/2018
The Minnesota Wild played host to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday evening in downtown St. Paul, but that was not the only hockey game in town.

A few blocks away, several members of the St. Paul Johnson ROTC unit were in an elevator, attempting to reach the top floor of what used to be a department store. They were there for a hockey game, as odd as that may sound.

Where a Dayton’s store once stood (followed by Macy’s when the outfit changed hands and names), the Wild have constructed a new practice rink on the fifth floor of the old store. It’s a showplace that was christened on the high school level when the St. Paul Johnson Governors boys team met the North St. Paul Polars in the first MSHSL game on the site.

TRIA Orthopaedic Center bought the naming rights and the place is called TRIA Rink. There is a large Wild logo at center ice, scoreboard on one end and large windows on the other, with a view of the streets below. There is a good amount of seating, bright lights and modern amenities … albeit with a layer of dust here and there as finishing touches on the facility are completed.

The ROTC kids made it safely to the arena and did their job very well during a pregame ceremony. It was Military Appreciation Night, and players from both teams had the names of military branches on the backs of their jerseys. That means there were plays that went like this: Army passes to Navy, who flips the puck to Air Force as Coast Guard and Marines move in on defense.

The jerseys will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to the United Heroes League (formerly Defending the Blue Line), which helps cover the cost of sports participation for families of active-duty military.

In another neat touch, both teams had the logo of the St. Paul Fire Department stitched onto the shoulder of their uniforms.

As the ROTC students stood on a red carpet before game time, holding flags and sabers, Larry Walker -- Vietnam veteran and grandfather of Johnson senior A.J. Austin -- dropped a ceremonial puck. There is no flag hanging on the walls of the new rink, but that’s probably one of the as-yet uncompleted tasks.

Austin made playing in the arena part of a class project, working in tandem with North’s Kearby Larson. Many players from the two teams grew up playing youth hockey together, making them familiar opponents on the high school level.

For the historical record, North St. Paul’s Jake Edmunds scored the first high school goal at TRIA Rink, knocking one in at 5:15 of the first period. He added another chapter to the record book a couple minutes later when he scored again. That sparked the Polars to a 6-2 victory. Larson and Nathan Conroy also scored twice for the Polars. Caleb Cunningham and Alex Campbell scored for the Governors.

The atmosphere was festive and after the final horn the players went through the traditional handshake line, after which many of them remained on the ice to chat with their buddies from the other team.

It was a grand way to end a night of history.

--To see a photo gallery, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Class 2A Boys Hockey Rankings1/3/2018
CLASS 2A
1. Minnetonka 10-0-2 2
2. St. Thomas Academy 8-1-1 3
3. Edina 10-1-0 1
4. Duluth East 5-0-4 4
5. White Bear Lake 8-0-2 6
6. Holy Family 10-2-1 7
7. Centennial 6-2-2 5
8. Cretin-Derham Hall 8-2-1 9
9. Moorhead 9-4-0 8
10. Eden Prairie 5-4-1 11
11. Duluth Marshall 8-3-1 12
12. Elk River 8-4-0 15
13. Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 9-4-1 13
14. Brainerd 7-3-0
15. Wayzata 5-5-1 10
16. Maple Grove 3-3-3 16
17. St. Michael-Albertville 7-3-0 17
18. Eastview 6-3-1 18
19. Hill-Murray 4-4-4
20. Stillwater 6-2-0 14
Class 1A Boys Hockey Rankings1/3/2018
CLASS 1A
1. Hermantown 5-3-2 2
2. Mahtomedi 7-1-1 1
3. Greenway 9-3-0 3
4. East Grand Forks 6-4-1 4
5. Orono 6-3-1 5
6. St. Cloud Cathedral 10-2-0 6
7. Mound Westonka 8-2-1 9
8. Breck 3-6-0 7
9. Sartell-St. Stephen 8-3-0 8
10. Delano 6-5-0 10
11. Virginia/Mountain Iron-Bruhl 9-4-0 12
12. Alexandria 5-6-1 11
13. Monticello 9-1-1 13
14. Minneapolis 8-6-0 14
15. Northfield 8-3-0 15
16. Crookston 6-4-0 16
17. Simley 9-1-1
18. Luverne 8-3-0 17
19. South St. Paul 7-4-0
20. North Branch 8-3-0
Class 2A Girls Hockey Rankings1/3/2018
CLASS 2A
1. Blake 15-0-1 1
2. Centennial 13-1-1 2
3. Edina 11-1-1 3
4. Hill-Murray 12-3-0 4
5. Andover 10-5-0 6
6. Forest Lake 10-2-2 8
7. Blaine 10-3-1 5
8. Minnetonka 9-3-3 7
9. Maple Grove 10-4-2 9
10. Brainerd/Little Falls 13-3-0 10
11. Eden Prairie 10-6-1 12
12. Eagan 13-2-1 14
13. Elk River 6-6-2 13
14. White Bear Lake 12-4-1 11
15. Wayzata 8-5-1 15
16. Roseau 10-4-0 17
17. Grand Rapids/Greenway 11-5-0 18
18. Farmington 11-3-0 20
19. Lakeville South 9-6-0 19
20. Cretin-Derham Hall 9-6-0 16
Class 1A Girls Hockey Rankings1/3/2018
CLASS 1A
1. Warroad 10-2-2 1
2. Thief River Falls 11-1-2 2
3. Breck 6-7-1 5
4. Alexandria 9-6-0 4
5. Red Wing 12-4-0 3
6. East Grand Forks 9-3-1 6
7. South St. Paul 12-3-1 7
8. St. Paul United 9-6-0 8
9. Duluth Marshall 9-5-0 9
10. Proctor/Hermantown 9-8-0 10
11. New Ulm 12-3-0 12
12. Delano/Rockford 9-7-0 11
13. Hibbing/Chisholm 7-10-2 13
14. Rochester Lourdes 10-8-0 16
15. Cloquet-Esko-Carlton 5-7-1 17
16. Hutchinson 7-6-1 19
17. Orono 6-10-0 15
18. Totino-Grace 6-8-1 14
19. Fergus Falls 10-8-0 18
20. Mahtomedi 9-6-1 20