Hockey Day Minnesota
Home Turf Revisited
Former Bear returns to compete on familiar field of play as a Raider
Hockey Day Minnesota 2023 kicked off on Thursday night at Polar Lakes Park in White Bear Township with a Suburban East Conference girls hockey clash between the Forest Lake Rangers and Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders. Though the Raiders came out on top by a 4-1 margin sealed by a Meredith Anfang goal into an empty Ranger net, both teams exited the ice bearing ear-to-ear grins having experienced something few of their peers ever will: The unique opportunity to compete on Hockey Day ice in a setting dedicated to celebrating the sport.
“It started snowing which I thought was really fun to be out playing in the snow,” Cretin-Derham Hall sophomore forward Abby Broz said after the game. “The atmosphere was amazing. Everybody was just so excited, win or loss, that would have been a great game either way to play in. Once in a lifetime.”
For Broz, the event set on top of the park’s primary soccer fields held special meaning for her in that it was a homecoming, of sorts.
“I grew up playing soccer there on those exact fields, all the way up until last year,” Broz said last week. “Being able to go back out there and play on White Bear’s turf, kind of, both soccer and hockey, I think it’s really cool. It’s good for our team, it’s good to be back out in White Bear and I hope everyone is just thankful for this opportunity, because it’s huge to be a part of this.”
Broz was raised in Hugo, where her family still lives, on a pond she grew up skating on with her siblings near the city’s southern border with White Bear Lake. She played her youth hockey in the White Bear Lake Area Hockey Association and recalls her fondest memory as a young Bear came in a tournament in Duluth in her first 12 and under season. “We ended up winning the tournament, which was pretty huge for us because no one expected our little U12 White Bear team to win anything.”
As an eighth grader, Broz made the varsity squad at White Bear Lake High School and finished the 2020-21 season with a pair of goals to go with three assists in 19 games for the Bears. But Broz and her parents, Roger and Michelle, felt she needed more from an academics standpoint and was not getting the help she needed at White Bear Lake. That, and another motivation, had the family looking elsewhere for Abby to finish high school.
“They thought it’d be cool for me to go experience a different place than somewhere I’ve always grown up,” Broz said. “Then we went and we toured (Cretin-Derham Hall) and I loved the school, I loved the team here, I loved, basically, everything about the different dynamics, like all the diversity of people. It was really fast the way it happened. There was like one day, I’m still at White Bear and then the next day I’m like, well, I’m going to Cretin next year.”
She was familiar with Raiders coach Tony Scheid, having played for him as an eighth grader on the 2021 Minnesota Hockey District 2 Girls High Performance 14 team at that level’s Spring Festival in Duluth, so that eased the transition. The move to an SEC rival came as a shock to Broz’s former teammates, who now must face her twice per season, but she still has friends among her relatively new foes.
“Obviously, there’s some tension because I transferred out but I still text a lot of them,” Broz said. “They all support me and I still support them.”
Broz admitted to a small case of FOMO (fear of missing out) when the announcement was made a year ago revealing White Bear Lake as the host of Hockey Day Minnesota in 2023. But the blow was softened when the Raiders were added to the list of participants.
“I was like, of course, the year I leave, you know, they get to go host,” Broz said. “It’s huge that we got to be a part of it and I’m just glad I kind of get to share it with my old roots because, you know, it’s like old versus new kind of all just mixed into one giant place.”
The Raiders found themselves in an early hole when Forest Lake’s Ava Saxe beat Cretin-Derham Hall goalie Grace Kemp just 40 seconds after the pregame fireworks and the Rangers left the ice after one period clinging to a 1-0 lead. But senior Lily Anderson’s goal 4:36 into the second evened the score and sophomore Hope Hadac’s shorthanded goal with 3:02 remaining in the period gave the Raiders a 2-1 lead after two.
That’s how it stayed into the late stages of the third before Hadac’s twin sister, Stella, provided Cretin-Derham Hall the cushion it needed at the 13:13 mark before Anfang capped off the scoring with 46 seconds left.
“We wanted to make a memory and we talked about, win or lose, it’s gonna be a great memory but let’s get the [W] and let’s go for it,” Scheid said. “And they were all in and they were excited. They played with enthusiasm and no fear and they’re just a great group of kids.”
When all was said and done, Broz had nothing but praise for her community’s efforts, responding enthusiastically “It’s sick” when asked about her first impression of the event.
“We walked in and they had music playing, there’s fires going, everybody’s just like wandering around like lost puppies, just enjoying the moment. No one was kind of paying attention to the game. They were just amazed how everything was set up.
“It’s just so cool out here. It’s so cool to be part of.”