Boys state hockey tournament is more than just the game

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From overtime thrillers, to underdog celebrations, each year we never know what the boys state hockey tournament will bring us — and while we won’t know who will be state champions until the end, we do know the tourney is about more than just the games.

From traditions that span decades-long, to some just beginning this year, there’s something special about St. Paul and the Xcel Energy Center around state tournament time.

“For us it’s been about a 42 year tradition,” Bill Gilmore said while standing next to his dad, also Bill.

“It’s great — it’s time [for] just the two of us for the most part,” Gilmore Sr. said. “And, I guess he likes to come with me so that’s encouraging too,” he added with a laugh from all.

Also a multi-decade tourney attendee, Jesus Moreno didn’t let a nearly eight-hour drive, through the snow, from Minor, North Dakota get into the way of his streak.

“We been doing this for about 20 years,” Moreno said, adding: “[It] started with me and my dad and my brother coming as I was playing as a little guy.”

This tournament means just as much to the fans as it does to its host city, St. Paul.

“The impact it has on hotels, on restaurants, on just things going on, the activity, that vitality, it’s awesome,” Jaimee Lucke Hendrikson, with Visit Saint Paul, said.  

Some fans there for the first time will likely not remember the action — including the Keis’ family’s first tournament together as a family of three.

“It’s just positive memories and I think really creates an affinity for the place you’re in. So, we love having these tournaments here in St. Paul,” Lucke Hendrikson said.

Watch 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS’ coverage of the tournament here.