State appearance provides boost for Albert Lea hockey

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 14, 2004

By Dick Herfindahl, Tribune Staff Writer

ST. PAUL &045; Albert Lea hockey has put behind it many years of near misses and frustration to reach the ultimate goal of any hockey program&045; A state tournament berth.

It’s the ultimate goal of any sports program to achieve the highest level possible in its sport. By winning the Section 1A title and advancing to state the Tigers accomplished something most hockey players in the state dream about as young players coming up through the age levels.

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The feeling is this will be a shot in the arm for Albert Lea Hockey. The excitement shared by the coaches and players spills over to the community and the younger players have renewed enthusiasm for their sport.

Attending the first game of the 60th Annual Minnesota State Hockey Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center was special.

There was a huge contingent of Albert Lea fans there to support their team and celebrate the event. The outcome of the first game wasn’t what they wanted but there was already a victory at hand.

It was a victory over the many years of frustration suffered by Albert Lea hockey, coach Roy Nystrom, the players both past and present and the many faithful fans who have supported Albert Lea Hockey through the years.

There were young hockey players in Albert Lea jerseys who came to cheer on their home town heroes, parents and grandparents of players, youth coaches both present and past and fans who just love to follow Albert Lea hockey. It was impressive to see all these fans at the tournament showing their support for the team.

With all the hockey teams we have in our state just making a trip to the &uot;Big Show&uot; already makes Albert Lea hockey a winner.

Having coached youth hockey for quite a few years, I can relate to the feeling of accomplishing the goal of advancing to the next level. The feeling of elation can be overwhelming and creates a bond between a coach and his players.

On Thursday the team enjoyed a victory and Coach Nystrom celebrated his 500th career win. It was a special time for the team, Coach Nystrom and for Albert Lea Hockey.