Niskanen brings Stanley Cup home on the Range

Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen brings the Stanley Cup into the Miners’ Memorial Building in Virginia, Minnesota, on Sunday, July 22, 2018. (PHOTO: Washington Capitals FB page)

I was talking to a friend this weekend. He told me that he watched a hockey game earlier that day.

Hockey, I said. It’s July. But I caught myself. Of course they’re playing hockey in July. It’s Minnesota.

Right now thousands of minivans criss-cross our verdant summer landscape. Each vessel aims for a parking lot drowned in the industrial hum of condensers turning wet arena floors into improbable ice.


Because every parent and kid in each of those minivans believes they might one day bring the Stanley Cup to the hardscrabble, blinking stoplight town where they’ll park the minivan later that night.

Most of these people are completely delusional.

But not all of them.

On Sunday, Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen brought the Stanley Cup back to his native Mesabi Iron Range.

This Mountain Iron native played for the Virginia-Mountain Iron-Buhl Blue Devils. Hundreds lined up outside the same arena where Niskanen used to play just to get close to the silvery trophy inscribed with the names of National Hockey League champions.

And to meet the man himself, who many already knew.

From the Duluth News Tribune:

“It’s a special, special place,” Niskanen said of bringing the Stanley Cup home. “It means a lot to me. I spend my summers here. I plan to retire here. My kids will go to school here. This is home.

“I grew up playing here. To bring it right into this rink where I grew up playing in high school — I actually started playing here in peewees — it’s a special, special feeling being on this floor.”

Will this be the last time the Stanley Cup comes home with a triumphant Iron Range hockey pro?

Nine times out of ten, I’d say yes. But not today.


Matt Niskanen celebrates the end of his day with the Stanley Cup at Lake Vermilion (PHOTO: Washington Capitals FB page)

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