ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- It's one of the great state tournaments in the country, and it's bringing tens of thousands to St. Paul through the weekend.
The Minnesota Boys State High School Hockey Tournament is underway at the Xcel Energy Center.
There will be plenty of emotions displayed on the ice and in the arena throughout the weekend. Drama and suspense lead the way, but go a little deeper and you'll see loyalty.
As most Minnesotans know, this tournament has quite the following. Perhaps there's no group as passionate as the young spectators that one day aspire to skate on that ice.
A set of 9-year-old fans from Hermantown were all decked out in blue jerseys, shoes and even blue hair as they cheered their Hawks onto a victory on Wednesday. But what you can't see is that the color blue also runs in their blood.
"If we win this, we are state champions," said Hermantown fan Drew Sams. "Who's going to win? Hawks. Who's going to play best? Hawks. What do you want to be one day? A Hawk."
No fans know how to do it better with hockey than Minnesotans. For many youngsters, it starts out in the winter playing pond hockey on one of the state's more than 10,000 lakes.
Drew Sams and Blake Biondi are best friends in Hermantown. They know that to reach their dream of playing at the Xcel Energy Center one day, they must eat, sleep and breathe hockey now.
"You gotta play your whole life. You can't just go out there and like goof around, you gotta like play hard," Sams said.
Because hard work just might pay off one day down the road.
"If we could go to the NHL, that'd be awesome," Sams said.
In the game of hockey, no pain is no gain and a goal is what makes all the hard work worth it.
"We got our first goal of the night with only like one minute into the game," Sams said.
When asked how badly these two want to play on this rink in 2018, when they plan to be playing varsity hockey for Hermantown, they said there is no measurement that would do their level of desire justice.
"You kind of want to reach around the world, and if your arms could fold around the world, then that's how much you want it," Sams said.
The Hermantown Hawks won this evening against the Rochester Lourdes, 7-2, continuing their undefeated season. They are the No. 1 seed in the Class A tournament.
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