St. Thomas Academy goalie Tommy Aitken is from Massachusetts by way of Omaha. Hill-Murray’s Remington Keopple hails from Wisconsin.
Louden Hogg, last year’s state Class 2A championship goaltender for Edina, is a Wyoming kid. Hogg was a sophomore last season playing his first season with the Hornets. Seems like he got the hang of this Minnesota high school hockey thing rather quickly.
The same could be said for Ben Steeves, Eden Prairie’s goal-scoring buzzsaw who played Midget AAA hockey in Michigan last season. The senior forward scored a hat trick in his first varsity game and added two more goals in his state tournament debut on Thursday. He’s one of 10 finalists for the Mr. Hockey award.
A certain level of consternation often comes with non-Minnesotans seizing the state tournament spotlight. During the 1957-58 season the Bulaca brothers, Bill and Ed, made daily 14-mile drives from South Junction, Manitoba, to attend Roseau High School. They helped lead Roseau to the 1958 championship, then took some heat from fans believing the purity of the event had been tainted.
“Somehow it doesn’t seem quite right that Canadians should be represented at on a Minnesota high school hockey team,” was one of the criticisms printed in readers' letters published in the Minneapolis Star sports section.
International Falls coach Larry Ross had his objections, too. “We could make a shambles out of the state tournament every year if we used kids from Fort Frances,” said Ross, referring to the hockey hotbed just across the Rainy River in Ontario.
Ross’ words proved prophetic, as a few years later he imported Ken Christiansen and his younger brother Keith, know to all as “Huffer”, from across the river. Huffer was virtually unstoppable in leading the Broncos to the 1962 title when they beat Roseau, of all teams, 4-0 in the championship game.
The list of players hailing from other states — other countries, even — who have starred in the state tournament is long and distinguished. Members of the not-one-of-us brigade have played for public schools, private schools, suburban schools, outstate schools … you get the idea. This is an all-encompassing phenomenon.
Here are a few more state tourney standouts whose origins were from well outside their high school’s boundary lines.
Don Granato, Burnsville
The senior transfer had played for a Chicago-based AAA midget team before helping propel Burnsville to the 1985 state championship.
Marko Kreus, Bloomington Kennedy
The senior defenseman, captain of Finland’s junior national team, arrived as a foreign exchange student and helped the Eagles win the 1987 state title.
Honza Stibingr, Monticello (pictured above)
The defensemen who grew up a half hour from Prague in the Czech Republic landed in Monticello as a foreign exchange student, then played fabulously as he helped the Moose make their Cinderella run to the state Class 1A championship game in 2017.
David Zevnik, St. Thomas Academy
Goaltender who was consistently brilliant as he led the Cadets to three state Class 1A titles in 2011-13 hailed from Milwaukee.