At the Top of Their Game: Northland Hockey

By KBJR News 1

May 12, 2011 Updated May 14, 2011 at 5:34 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) -- The Northland has a rich history when it comes to the sport of hockey.

All-Americans, professionals, Olympians - you name, this area has it.

In fact, seven Northlanders helped lift the 1980 U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal, and four of them went on to play in the NHL.

Of that group, Roseau native Neal Broten went on to hoist the Stanley Cup, becoming one of several Northlanders to have that honor.

"This is probably the best part right here when you get to see all the kids and the whole community come and enjoy a trophy as great as this," Cloquet native and 1999 Stanley Cup winner Jamie Langenbrunner said.

"It's so surreal right now," Grand Rapids native and Stanley Cup winner Alex Goligoski said. "It's an unbelievable feeling. It's just really cool to have it for the day."

The list of NHL players born and bred in the Northland goes on, and on, and on, and on.

Those that make that elite list call it an amazing feeling.

"I still kind of amaze myself every day with how far I've come so fast," Virginia native Matt Niskanen said. "It's really, really exciting."

Even within the elite there are those who stand out including Cloquet native Derek Plante, who played his college career here at UMD.

"I scored a lot of good goals here, won a McNaughton Cup here and had a great celebration, so there are lots of great memories and a lot of great people," Plante said.

Despite some great seasons there's been only one national title for the Bulldogs, and that came this past season.

It was a title under the tutelage of head coach and Hibbing native Scott Sandelin.

"This group was resilient all year and they worked hard and they believed in each other," Sandelin said. "That's why I'm so happy for them."

While the men have one national title, the women have five!
Five national championships in only 12 seasons, and all under the direction of head coach Shannon Miller.

"Why wouldn't you want to win?" Miller said, only half-jokingly. "Let's win the league. Let's win the national championship. Otherwise, what's the point?"

As if all this isn't enough, the Dogs also boast 23 Olympians. Among them are gold medal winners Caroline Oullette, Haley Irwin, and Jenny Potter.

"I think the most memorable moment for me is opening ceremonies with your country," Potter said, "walking in the stadium with hundreds of thousands of people."

A feeling reserved for the best of the best, those who are at the top of their game when it comes to Northland hockey.

Below is a list of the men and women born and bred in the Northland who have reached the pinnacle of their sport. If you know of others, please alert the Northland's NewsCenter.

Northland NHLers

Rudy Ahlin, Earl Anderson, Mike Antonovich, Bill Baker, Keith Ballard, Mike Baumgartner, Bob Blake, Henry Boucha, Joe Bretto, Frank Brimsek, Milt Brink, Aaron Broten, Neal Broten, Paul Broten, Dustin Byfuglien, Jack Carlson, Steve Carlson, John Casey, Dave Christian, Bob Collyard, Matt Cullen, Davis Drewiske, Bryan Erickson, Kelly Fairchild, Zack Fitzgerald, Rusty Fitzgerald, Gary Gambucci, Kerry Gernander, Stan Gilbertson, Leroy Goldsworthy, Alex Goligoski, John Gruden, Al Hangsleben, Adam Hauser, Mark Heaslip, Sean Hill, Phil Hoene, Mike Karakas, Scot Kleinedorst, Jamie Langenbrunner, Pete LoPresti, Sam LoPresti, Craig Ludwig, Chris Marinucci, John Mariucci, Bob Mason, Joe Micheletti, Pat Micheletti, Corey Millen, Joe Motzko, Rick Mrozik, Jeff Nielsen, Kirk Nielsen, Matt Niskanen, Aldo Palazzari, Doug Palazzari, Joe Papike, Mark Pavelich, Mike Peluso, John Polich, Mike Polich, Dan Plante, Derek Plante, Jon Rohloff, Todd Rohloff, Scott Sandelin, Gary Sargent, Clarence Schmidt, Neil Sheehy, Dale Smedsmo, Wyatt Smith, Robb Stauber, Al Suomi, Dean Talafous, Steve Wagner, Jim Watt, Butch Williams, Tommy Williams, Clay Wilson

UMD Olympians (Women)

Jenni Asserholt, Julie Chu, Iya Gavrilova, Jennifer Harss, Elin Holmlov, Erika Holst, Haley Irwin, Satu Kiipeli, Michaela Lanzl, Kim Martin, Caroline Oullette, Mari Pehkonen, Heidi Pelltari, Kristina Petrovskaia, Mariia Posa, Jenny Potter, Tuula Puputti, Maria Rooth, Patricia Sautter, Hanne Sikio, Nora Tallus, Saara Tuominen, Pernilla Winberg

Posted by Zach Schneider