The Minnesota boys' state high school hockey tournament needs no introduction. It is quite simply one of the great hockey events of the year, and it brings a little bit of everything. You've got the passion of high school sports and kids playing for their schools, quality hockey thanks to one of the deepest in-state talent pools anywhere in the U.S., and most important, you have the best collection of hockey hair anywhere in the world under one roof for four days.
It's the barber's and salon owner's dream when the local high school team makes the state tournament. It means 20-plus young men are coming into the shop asking for as little as a touchup, or as much as a full bleach-job mullet cut, complete with racing stripes. The styles run the gamut, but the local hair industry definitely gets a boost as soon as the high school punches its ticket to St. Paul.
This year's tournament was extra special, as it was the 75th edition. Played annually at the home of the Minnesota Wild, the Xcel Energy Center, the tournament regularly fills the entire building, with the Class AA championship game a guaranteed sellout. For four days, it seems the entire state stops and turns its attention to St. Paul. Work absences or distractions are generally understood. Nothing tops The Tourney.
For the players, the dreams of winning the tournament are very real, but just making it to "The X" is a life goal achieved on its own. Every single player gets his five seconds of screen time on 45tv, with the opportunity to let the locks flow in the hopes that he might become part of the viral sensation that is the All-Hockey Hair Team, as featured in our unforgettable Barry Melrose-narrated vignette "Minneflowta."
The field for 2019 is absolutely stacked, and we don't know who will get the coveted golden combs this season, but we at ESPN have a few favorites of our own who deserve the spotlight whether they earn a coveted spot or not.
Before we get started here, a big ol' tip of the hat to the incomparable @cjzero for compiling all of the player intros and to 45tv for bringing these lovely locks to the masses. And make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the 2019 All-Hockey Hair Team from @GameOnMinnesota. After all, they're the experts.