USA Hockey Magazine

April / May 2018

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Page 36 of 48

APRIL/MAY 2018 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM // 35 By Jess Myers Opened in 1993, the Gardens ice rink is the epicenter of the community known for its passion for the game. O n the wind-swept plains of South Dakota, a small p h a r m a c y n a m e d Wa l l D r u g b e c a m e a w o r l d - renowned tourist attraction with a simple enticement to get road-weary travelers to stop in. They offered free water. Roughly 700 miles away, on the edge of the wind- swept prairies of northwestern Minnesota, the small town of Warroad has carved out its place among the great hockey communities by offering something similar. At all hours of the day and night, at the two indoor rinks that are the focal points of the town, they offer free ice. Above the smaller ice sheet known as the Olympic Arena— named for the eight Warroad men and women who have skated for Team USA in Olympic competition between 1956 (Gordon "Ginny" Christian) and the present (Gigi Marvin)—hangs a giant sign. It serves as a bit of life guidance for countless kids in this town of 1,800 that's been known as "Hockeytown USA" since the 1950s. "Hockeytown. Come Early, Stay Late. Skate Every Day," it reads, offering a reminder that ice time is free and abundant for any boy or girl who wants to come to the rink. "It doesn't cost any money to skate, so we tell the kids to come here and find a friend and stay here," said Mike Marvin, who is Gigi's father and the de facto ambassador of all things Warroad hockey. "The beauty of it is a Squirt kid can go to Peewee practice, a Peewee kid can go to Squirt practice, the girls can practice with the boys. You actually can come here and stay here. Nobody kicks you off the ice." That's more than a recruiting pitch in this small community where there are seemingly always jobs to be filled at the local window and door factory, and they always encourage young families to see all that's offered in Warroad. Early, Stay Late And Every Day A Way Of In Hockeytown, USA Teams from Warroad have historically fared well against teams from much larger towns .

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