Here is a crazy statistic: Tuesday, May 2, marks 52 days since the boys high school hockey state tournament sounded the final horn and 66 days since the girls season ended.
The hockey offseason news cycle slows but never stops, never puts its skates in the basement or garage until late fall. There are too many players making college plans, others doing big things on the international level, coaches coming and going and, unfortunately, the passing of legends.
Let's recap what you might have missed in the blur of March Madness, professional sports playoffs and life in general.
Several standout junior skaters gave their word to a college program: Hill-Murray forward Chloe Boreen (St. Thomas), Chanhassen defenseman Owen Buesgens (St. Thomas), Minnetonka forward Hagen Burrows (Denver), Edina forward Bobby Cowan (St. Thomas) and Warroad forward Carson Pilgrim (North Dakota).
Boreen's Pioneers reached the Class 2A, Section 4 finals. Buesgens and Burrows slugged it out in the Section 2 championship game. Burrows and the Skippers prevailed, then beat Cowan's Hornets for the state title. Pilgrim netted a hat trick in the Class 1A title game, but his Warriors finished second.
Speaking of Warroad, Hampton Slukynsky, who won the Frank Brimsek Award as the state's top senior goaltender, took part in Team USA's victory in the 2023 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship tournament in Switzerland. The Yanks had not won gold since 2017.
Five former Minnesota high school standouts helped the U.S. women's national team beat Canada and capture gold at the 2023 IIHF World Championship in Brampton, Ontario. Those players are Rory Guilday (Minnetonka), Taylor Heise (Red Wing), Gabbie Hughes (Centennial), Kelly Pannek (Robbinsdale Cooper and Benilde-St. Margaret's) and Lee Stecklein (Roseville).
Turnover in the coaching ranks is an annual occurrence. But it's the quality, not quantity, that has drawn attention thus far. Longtime coaches Steve Guider (Blaine girls), Shawn Reid (Hill-Murray girls) and Tim Sager (White Bear Lake boys) turned in their whistles.
Guider led the Bengals to a pair of Class 2A state tournament appearances (2015, 2017). Reid enjoyed a run of Class 1A dominance at Blake (five state tournament appearances and four titles from 2013-17). Sager's Bears reached the Xcel Energy Center four times, most recently in 2019.
John Russo Sr., founder of the Upper Midwest High School Elite League, died at 78. His son John Russo Jr. is a Benilde-St. Margaret's assistant coach.
Duluth Cathedral defenseman Steve "Pokey" Trachsel, a standout on the Hilltoppers' four consecutive Catholic school state championships teams from 1966-69, died at 71, along with wife Cathie, in a three-car accident in California.