‘All-218’ final for state high school boys hockey title

The Grand Rapids Thunderhawks celebrate the Section 7AA championship that sent them to the state tournament. (PHOTO: Grand Rapids Thunderhawk Hockey)

UPDATE: Hail, Hail the 218! Grand Rapids and Hermantown win the AA and A championships, respectively!

The sun rises on a hockey holiday in the state of Minnesota. The class A and AA championship games take place today in St. Paul. Thrilling many here, no doubt, these showdowns feature three teams from our hardscrabble hockey-loving 218 area code of Northern Minnesota.

After upsetting top-seeded Eden Prairie last night, the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks will face the Moorhead Spuds in the AA Championship. That game starts at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Hermantown Hawks will play Monticello-Annandale-Maple Lake for the Class A title at noon.

The semifinal round featured some exciting play and close games, previewing what could be a pair of great championship games.

MinnesotaBrown.com World Headquarters sits squarely in the Grand Rapids school district. Three genuine Thunderhawks dwell within, so my loyalties are clear. Regardless, it’s good to see some Northern success after several years of suburban domination at the state tournament.

I was raised in Cherry, one of the small pockets on the Iron Range where hockey just isn’t a thing. So my ties to hockey are more casual. But there’s no denying the excitement that envelops a town like Grand Rapids when a state title is on the line.

Grand Rapids last won the state title in 1980, after a decade of dominance. Back then, Grand Rapids’ bright orange uniforms earned the team the nickname “The Halloween Machine.”

I am constantly ensnared in elaborate discussions of whether or not Grand Rapids is part of the Iron Range. The answer is nuanced. Grand Rapids is culturally distinct from the Mesabi Range due to its location and more diverse economy, but is legally, historically and geologically part of the Mesabi.

But on a day like today, I’m betting Grand Rapids enjoys more Iron Range support than usual.


  1. Those games were soo exciting. Talk about suspense right up to the very end . A great job by the GR team!

  2. David Gray says

    Kudos to Grand Rapids and Hermantown!

  3. I remember many years ago when WCCO paid a million dollars for broadcast rights to the High School Hockey Tournament and couldn’t reach a deal with the 218 TV stations to cover it. The finals came down to something like Greenway and Baudette. Only a few bars and cable companies had access to it in the home towns.

    Three things happened.

    WCCO lost its shirt with no Cities teams in the finals.

    The High School League specified that the games had to be available for broadcast statewide.

    It just so happened for many years that the brackets were such that if two 218 teams survived, they would face each other before the finals. That seems to have finally gone away.

  4. All is right in the world and God is in his Heaven. Both state trophies are back north, where they belong.

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