Patrick Reusse
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Gigi Marvin was back home in Warroad for Christmas. It's not quite the festival that it was when grandfather Cal and grandmother Beth were hosting the all-day activities that featured music, food, hockey and warm liquids, but this much is certain:

There are many decades to go before Warroad faces the possibility of running out of hockey-loving Marvins.

"We come from the other branch of the Marvins, not the window people,'' Gigi said this week. "Grandma Beth and Grandpa Cal had 12 kids. And a few years ago, I was told there were 68 of us grandkids.''

And then, of course, another generation — all eligible to participate in the family's Christmas afternoon hockey game.

"We call it the 'outlaw rink'; it must be the length of a football field,'' Gigi said. "Women and men, girls and boys, all ages. My aunts could be out there skating, and for the most part, they didn't get a chance to play in high school because it was before the start of Title IX.

"We usually have 20 or more players on the ice. All of those hours of outdoor hockey that you play growing up in Warroad … what comes to mind first for me is the family game on Christmas Day.''

Cal died in 2004 and Beth two years ago on Christmas Eve. Cal was the unofficial Mr. Hockey of Warroad, which is saying something when his generation includes Roger and Billy Christian, gold medalists for the U.S. in the 1960 Olympics.

Gigi was a major part of turning Warroad into a girls hockey power. She was Let's Play Hockey's Ms. Hockey in 2005, a star for the Gophers, and a three-time Olympian with medals of all three tones.

Marvin, 34, officially announced her retirement from Team USA in mid-December. She's now doing analyst work for Bally Sports North and will be in attendance at the Winter Classic on Saturday night at Target Field.

"Twenty below, I heard,'' Gigi said. "That sounds like a nice January evening at home.''

Snow and victory

Bob Motzko learned the game in the fledgling youth program in Austin, Minn., turned the St. Cloud State Huskies into a worthy foe to all from 2005 to 2018, and is in season No. 4 as the Gophers coach.

"All the thousands of hours that my buddies and me spent at the East Side Lake rink in Austin, I would have to go with the U.S.-Canada game in the World Juniors in Buffalo [N.Y.] in the qualifying round of the 2018 tournament as the most memorable outdoor moment,'' Motzko said.

"We played in the Bills' stadium, with over 40,000 fans, and in a full-blown snowstorm. It was fantastic.''

Motzko had coached Team USA to the gold medal in the 2017 World Juniors. He had those duties again for what was labeled as the 2018 tournament. The snowstorm game was played on Dec. 29, 2017.

"We came back from two goals down in the third period and beat 'em 4-3 in a shootout,'' Motzko said. "The shootout's still a blur for me, but I remember Brady Tkachuk getting an amazing goal in the comeback.''

The U.S. wound up losing to Sweden in the semifinals and taking the bronze. Canada didn't get an indoors rematch with Motzko's Yanks, but it did beat Sweden for the gold.

Lou in the Soo

As with youth all across the hockey-playing world, the boys of the late '40s and early '50s in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, would gather at an outdoor rink, usually Central Park, toss their sticks in a pile and take them out alternately to decide sides for the pickup game.

These contests had a chance to be very competitive, owing to the fact as many as seven future NHLers might have been involved: the Esposito brothers (Phil and Tony), the Maki brothers (Chico and Wayne), Matt Ravlich, Gene Ubriaco and Lou Nanne.

"You know how many good players there were in the Soo then?'' Nanne said. "Phil was tall and gangly, growing into his body, and he didn't make the Blackhawks, the city's bantam team.

"Phil's uncle, Nick DiPietro, took care of that. He was connected at the steel plant and started another team. So the Italians in the neighborhood … we became the Algoma Contractors in bantams.''

And Phil became an NHL all-timer as goal scorer, and Tony as a goaltender, and Louie became … well, Minnesota's man for all hockey matters.

Late nights in Hibbing

There were many options for outdoor ice in the thriving city of Hibbing in the 1970s.

"Dom Grillo's Greenhaven, with two rinks and a great warming house … that was the crème de la crème,'' hockey man Pat Micheletti said. "We weren't welcomed by the kids there, though; we were from a different part of town.

"I'll tell you what was fabulous — being a hockey-loving kid who lived near Dutch and Judy Weber. Dutch built a rink in his backyard. He put up floodlights. He shoveled the rink and the ice was like glass. They let us use their basement as a warming house.

"The Hooper twins, Greg and Gary, were my linemates from squirts. We would be there as late as we were allowed to stay out. The house would be dark and Dutch and Judy were inside, trying to sleep, but they never once told us it was time to stop skating and go home.''

Love of the game

Corey Koskie, hopeful goaltender, big-league third baseman:

"I played for the Anola Arrows. Anola's 25 minutes east of Winnipeg and we were on a farm. I wasn't a full-time goalie yet, so this was probably squirts, and it was so cold ... your face felt like it was burning when you were skating into the wind.

"Some kids were crying about their toes freezing. I just wanted to keep playing. Hockey's always been my favorite sport.

"I remember listening to a game when Sean Burke stopped 58 shots playing against the Russians. I wanted to be him. I didn't really start playing baseball seriously until I was 19, and I found out I was never going to be the next Burke, or Grant Fuhr, or Andy Moog.''

Dom Barber, Gophers and NFL safety, hockey teammate at Wayzata High School with future NFL Hall of Fame linebacker James Laurinaitis:

"There was the outdoor rink at East Middle School, but the greatest part for me as a kid that loved hockey was both James and Kurt Davis had rinks in their backyards. There were weekend days when we'd be out there so long that we would forget to eat.

"Those people at Target Field on Saturday … they'll be cold watching hockey. But playing hockey? You never get that cold you want to be doing something else.''