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In the world of high school hockey, few rivalries can match the intensity and passion of the one between Hibbing vs. Hermantown Hockey. Separated by just over 60 miles in northern Minnesota, these two schools have developed a fierce competition on the ice that has provided fans with thrilling games and unforgettable moments for decades.
In this blog, we will delve into the history of both programs, the memorable games that have defined their rivalry, and the impact it has had on their respective communities.
Equally important Hibbing High School has long been a powerhouse in Minnesota high school hockey. With a history dating back to the 1920s, the Bluejackets have produced numerous NHL players, including Hall of Famer Kevin McHale and current NHLer Matt Niskanen. The program has also won several state championships, with the most recent coming in 1998.
On the other hand Hibbing’s success on the ice can be attributed to a strong tradition of excellence and a passionate fan base that supports the team through thick and thin. However the Bluejackets’ home games at the historic Hibbing Memorial Arena are always packed with fans clad in blue and white, creating an electric atmosphere that few high school hockey venues can match.
Hermantown High School Hockey: A Rising Power
While Hibbing’s hockey history is well-established, Hermantown High School’s rise to prominence is a more recent development. The Hawks, who play their home games at the Hermantown Ice Arena, have quickly become one of the most successful high school hockey programs in Minnesota since their inception in the late 1980s.
However under the guidance of head coach Bruce Plante, who took over the program in 1990, the Hawks have won multiple state championships and produced several NHL players, including Neal Pionk and Adam Krause. Hermantown’s rapid ascent in the world of high school hockey has earned them a reputation as a formidable opponent and a worthy rival for the storied Hibbing program.
The Rivalry: Hibbing vs. Hermantown
However the rivalry between Hibbing and Hermantown began to take shape in the early 1990s, as the Hawks started to establish themselves as a force in Minnesota high school hockey. With both schools located in the same section and often competing for a spot in the state tournament, the stage was set for a fierce competition that would captivate fans and players alike.
Over the years, the rivalry has only grown in intensity, with both programs consistently fielding strong teams and often meeting in crucial games with high stakes. The atmosphere at Hibbing vs. Hermantown games is electric, with fans from both communities packing the stands and cheering loudly for their respective teams.
The Role of Coaches in the Rivalry
Equally important behind every great team is a great coach, and the Hibbing vs. Hermantown rivalry has seen its fair share of exceptional leaders. From Hibbing’s storied coaches like Gary Harker and Todd Versich, to Hermantown’s legendary Bruce Plante and current head coach Patrick Andrews, these men have played a pivotal role in shaping the rivalry and cultivating the talent that has graced the ice for both teams.
These coaches have not only developed successful game strategies and fostered team chemistry, but they have also instilled in their players the values of sportsmanship, hard work, and dedication. However their influence extends beyond the rink, as many former players credit their high school coaches for shaping their character and helping them succeed in life after hockey.
Alumni Success Stories
The Hibbing vs. Hermantown rivalry has produced numerous players who have gone on to find success at higher levels of hockey, including college and professional leagues. For Hibbing, notable alumni include Kevin McHale, who played for the University of Minnesota before embarking on a successful NHL career, and Matt Niskanen, who won a Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals in 2018.
Hermantown has also seen its share of successful alumni, with players like Neal Pionk, who currently plays for the Winnipeg Jets, and Adam Krause, who played for the University of Minnesota Duluth and had a brief stint in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
These success stories not only bring pride to their respective communities but also serve as inspiration for young players who dream of following in their footsteps and making their mark on the hockey world.
The Importance of Youth Hockey Programs
The foundation of any successful high school hockey program lies in the development of young players through local youth hockey associations. Both Hibbing and Hermantown have strong youth hockey programs that have been instrumental in fostering talent and preparing players for the rigors of high school competition.
These youth programs emphasize skill development, teamwork, and sportsmanship, ensuring that players are well-equipped to succeed at the high school level and beyond. The strong connection between these youth programs and the high school teams has been a key factor in the sustained success of both the Bluejackets and the Hawks.
The Role of Family and Community Support
However the Hibbing vs. Hermantown rivalry would not be what it is today without the unwavering support of families and community members. Parents, siblings, and other relatives play a crucial role in nurturing the passion for hockey in young players, providing encouragement, transportation to practices and games, and countless hours of support in various capacities.
Community members also contribute to the success of the teams by attending games, volunteering their time and resources, and rallying behind the players in both victory and defeat. This strong network of support is a testament to the importance of high school hockey in both Hibbing and Hermantown, and it serves as the lifeblood of the rivalry.
Key Factors Contributing to the Rivalry’s Intensity
Community Events Surrounding the Rivalry
Influence on Future Generations
The Lasting Impact of the Rivalry on Players
On the other hand for the young athletes who have the privilege of participating in the Hibbing vs. Hermantown rivalry, the experience leaves a lasting impact that extends far beyond their high school years. The memories of thrilling victories, hard-fought battles, and the camaraderie shared with teammates become cherished moments that they carry with them throughout their lives.
However many former players maintain lifelong friendships with their teammates and opponents, bonded by the shared experience of competing in one of Minnesota’s most storied high school hockey rivalries. The lessons learned on the ice – perseverance, teamwork, and dedication – also serve as valuable tools for success in their personal and professional lives.
Memorable Games and Moments
There have been many memorable games in the Hibbing vs. Hermantown rivalry, but a few stand out as particularly noteworthy. In 2004, the Bluejackets and Hawks met in the section final, with a trip to the state tournament on the line. However, in a thrilling back-and-forth game, Hibbing emerged victorious in overtime, sending their fans into a frenzy and propelling the team to the state tournament.
Another unforgettable moment came in 2016, when the two teams faced off in the regular season. With the game tied late in the third period, Hibbing scored a dramatic game-winning goal with just seconds remaining, sending the Bluejackets’ faithful into a wild celebration and adding another chapter to the storied rivalry.
Impact on the Community
The Hibbing vs. Hermantown rivalry has had a profound impact on both communities, fostering a sense of pride and camaraderie among fans and players. The games provide a stage for young athletes to showcase their talents and create lasting memories, while also bringing together friends, families, and neighbors in a shared passion for the sport.
The rivalry has also had a positive economic impact on both towns, as fans from each community travel to the other for games, patronizing local businesses and contributing to the vitality of the region.
The Future of the Rivalry
As both Hibbing and Hermantown continue to field strong hockey teams, the rivalry between the two schools shows no signs of waning. With passionate fan bases and talented players, the stage is set for many more thrilling games and unforgettable moments in the years to come.
As the sport of hockey continues to grow in popularity and prominence in Minnesota, the Hibbing vs. Hermantown rivalry stands as a testament to the excitement and passion that high school hockey can inspire.
The Hibbing vs. Hermantown hockey rivalry is a prime example of the passion, intensity, and excitement that high school sports can generate. With a rich history and a bright future, this rivalry is sure to provide fans, players, and communities with many more memorable moments on the ice.
As the Hibbing vs. Hermantown hockey rivalry continues to evolve and captivate fans, players, and communities, it remains a shining example of the power of high school sports to inspire passion, forge lasting bonds, and create unforgettable memories. With a rich history, a bright future, and an unwavering commitment to excellence from all involved, this rivalry is sure to provide many more thrilling moments and captivating stories for generations to come.