A youth hockey team from Alaska that was yearning to test themselves against some new opponents traveled to the Minnesota to see if the state of hockey had competitors that were up to snuff.
Alaska may be the only state in the country that gets colder than Minnesota, but when the Fairbanks-based team traveled to visit what they call "Hockey USA," they got a warm reception.
As they take on teams from the state of hockey, Alaska's Arctic Lions are beaming with pride. Where they come from, the nearest competition is at least 8 hours away. Now, the 9- and 10-year-olds who traded the frozen tundra for the land of 10,000 lakes have half a dozen teams to face off against.
In addition to playing against teams from Edina and Hastings, the Lions have been busy prowling local landmarks like the Xcel Energy Center and Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub. In fact, their coach told them to watch the Minnesota-made movie "The Mighty Ducks" to prepare for the trip.
Overall, players say the best part has been breaking the ice with their opponents, but the experience has already exceeded everyone's expectations.
The Lions lost to Minnetonka on Wednesday night, but they split their games 3-3 during their 4-day visit. On Thursday, they'll head to Fargo to play in the Squirts International Tournament before flying back home.