Warroad, Minnesota, six miles south of the Canadian border and home to less than 1,800 people, is the real Hockeytown, USA as Mike Morreale of NHL.com discovered. He also found out America's gold medal hopes are increased in 2014 thanks to this quirky fact:
No U.S. Olympic men's hockey team ever has won a gold medal without a Warroad player in the lineup. Bill and Roger Christian were members of the 1960 Olympic team that upset the Soviet Union for the gold medal in Squaw Valley, California.
"You can play hockey, skate or ice fish, but unless you're flooding the river or pond, they really frown on cutting holes in the ice [to ice fish]," said Warroad native, Olympic gold medalist and U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Dave Christian.
Dave Christian, Bill's son, was a member of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" team in Lake Placid, N.Y.
"There's not much else to do other than play hockey in the winter in Warroad," Christian said. "The arena back then was called Memorial Arena; now it's an empty lot. But I grew up in that building. You could always round up a key, find an open door, get inside the arena and to the electrical room to flip on the light switch so you could skate."
"I am so proud of the fact so many Olympians have come from Warroad," Dave Christian said. "That's a big reason why playing on that Olympic team was a dream of mine as a young kid. Every time you went to [Memorial] Arena, you would see the photographs and read the history of those from Warroad who had played for national teams and Olympic teams.
At the 2014 Sochi Games, the men's Olympic team will include another former resident of Warroad, St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie. The women's Olympic team will return Gigi Marvin, who won a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
"It's amazing how many Olympians that town has produced," Oshie said. "I'm not going to say for everyone, but for most people hockey is everything; everyone there grows up playing. There's no movie theater, no McDonald's; it's just a small town where everything is simple."
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