Minnesota Hockey Magazine

Tara’s Takes: Our Trip to Houghton!

This past weekend, Charlie and I traveled over the river and through the woods (and nearly 350 miles) to the copper-mining community of Houghton, Mich. to see the Gophers take on the Huskies in the team’s first stop of what we’re playfully calling the “WCHA Farewell Tour” – not to make this dramatic or anything, but for some of us, Minnesota’s departure from the conference is far from exciting news.

Here is a brief pictorial recap of our encounters up in Copper Country …

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We made it! Not quite the Golden Gate, but the Houghton-Hancock Bridge connects, not surprisingly, the cities of Houghton and Hancock over Portage Lake. The monumental structure is signature to the town (That’s right, it’s on caps, coffee cups, coasters, you name it. Everywhere.) In the winter, they actually lower the bridge so it’s accessible to snowmobiles and skiers, while cars cross over the top!

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This is the John J. MacInnes Student Ice Arena, where the Huskies play. Its name comes from one of the most successful coaches in the history of college hockey, with a record of 555-295-39. Saturday night’s attendance at the arena was 3,883 — to give some perspective, that’s more than half the town of Houghton!

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MTU’s favorite pup, Blizzard T. Husky, joined Charlie and I for tailgating. The school hosted a party for all the game attendees before Saturday night’s game. We met a couple from Coon Rapids, Minn., Don and Kay, who travel with the Gophers to every away game – since 1996! “This is our summer vacation,” they told us. “Some people have cabins, we watch hockey.” Hats off to them for their dedication to our favorite sport.

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Game time! And last, but not least, here is a view from our seats at MacInnes. It was a split for the teams this weekend with 5-3 Huskies, followed by 3-2 Gophers. Game two definitely kept us on our toes!

Tara’s Top-5 Take-Aways:

5. Don Lucia really likes to win…like, 600 times over…

4. Michigan’s Pietila family has rockstar hockey genes.

3. Gophers need to pump up on the power-play.

2. Michigan Tech knows MUSIC. Yes, folks, their pep band even has a bagpipe…a BAGPIPE! How cool is that?!

1. “Michigan Nice” may very well be a close competitor to “Minnesota Nice.” Seriously, fabulously courteous fans in the UP!

All in all, it was a perfect weekend for college hockey, and a special thanks to our new friends up in Houghton for their unwavering hospitality.

Tara