Roseau is a tiny town of 2700 residents in northern Minnesota. It's less than an hour's walk to the Canadian border, maybe a bit longer in the heavy snows of winter.
Roseau is known for two things. One is Polaris snowmobiles and off road machines, as this is home to the company's assembly plant. Two is hockey.
Roseau has three well-maintained arenas, as well two outdoor rinks and no shortage of natural ice surfaces for games of shinny. Two more inside venues are available 20 miles down highway 11 in nearby Warroad, a less prosperous town of 1700.
The 2008 NHL Draft will see Aaron Ness drafted, possibly in the first round. He's the star of the Roseau Rams high school hockey team, who still play in rickety old Roseau Memorial Arena as opposed to the new high school rink because of the legendary connection to the past. The undersized defenseman won the "Mr. Hockey Award" as top high school player in the entire state while leading the Rams to an undefeated season. Ness will attend the University of Minnesota in September, but will undoubtedly be drafted this week at the NHL Entry Draft. He is ranked as the 43rd best prospect by The Hockey News.
Ness is following in the skate marks of every boy's dream in Roseau. Those dreams were forever frozen in time thanks to four locals in the late 1970s and 1980s.
In the late 1970s the Rams featured a line of Butsy Erickson and brothers Aaron and Neal Broten. The trio are Roseau's most famous hockey players. All three went on to the "U," the University of Minnesota, more of a dream to many locals than the NHL. All three would go on to the big leagues too. Neal was perhaps the greatest Minnesotan player of all time, winning Olympic gold in 1980 and the Stanley Cup in 1995.
The third brother, Paul Broten, followed in their footsteps with the Rams, the Golden Golphers and the NHL. Others from Roseau include Mike Baumgartner, Dale Smedson, Earl Anderson and current NHLer Dustin Byfuglien.
Nearby Warroad produced another legendary family of hockey. Brothers Roger and Bill Christian was a key member of the 1960 gold medal winning US Olympic team, and went on to create Christian Brothers hockey sticks company. Another brother, Gordon, played on the 1956 Olympic team. Bill's son Dave Christian followed in his footsteps with the 1980 Miracle on Ice team, and then on to a long NHL career. Henry Boucha and Al Hangsleben are also from there.
The game will always thrive hockey's heartland.
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