Dropping The Puck For Our Community

Photo by Minnesota Wild - Bruce Kluckhohn
Photo by Minnesota Wild - Bruce Kluckhohn

When the National Hockey League’s Minnesota Wild take to the ice on March 7 inside the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, it will mark the return of the club’s Pride Night. The Wild will take on the Calgary Flames for a 7:00 PM face off on that Tuesday evening.

Last year, the LGBTQ community showed up in the budling. We were among the “Team of 18,000” representing the “State of Hockey.” This year, they’re doing it again!

According to Wayne Petersen, Director of Community Relations and Hockey Partnerships at the Minnesota Wild, expect this year’s Pride Night to be “very similar to what we did last year.” 

“One thing that we’re very excited about is that the team will be wearing special Pride jerseys again during pre-game warmups,” Petersen explained. “They will be using Pride tape on their sticks. It will be a totally new jersey. One thing that we’re really excited about and proud about with this jersey is that we have one of these shoulder patches is a tribute to Jack Jablonski.”

In fact, the Associate Digital Media Content Specialist for the Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota hockey icon will do the traditional “Let’s Play Hockey” call prior to face-off that game. Jablonski will be on hand at the game, traveling from Southern California to celebrate with our community. This will be his first appearance in Minnesota since attending the Quorum’s National Coming Out Day Luncheon.

In turn, the Wild organization continues to support Jablonski’s foundation.

Photo by Minnesota Wild – Bruce Kluckhohn

Also, Petersen stated that the Wild is “in the process of inviting a number of nonprofits that serve the LGBTQ community to have a presence by inviting them to have a concourse table. We’re working with Twin Cities Pride right now to identify the groups, but we will have groups on the concourse again. These are all groups chosen in partnership with Twin Cities Pride and all groups that serve the LGBTQ community.”

For the March 7 game, a special ticket pack will be available through the Wild’s ticketing website. According to Petersen, the ticket pack includes “a Wild branded Pride t-shirt, a pre-game on-ice photo, and a pre-game gathering. Plus, a portion of each ticket pack purchase will benefit Twin Cities Pride.” The Wild’s retail outlet, The Hockey Lodge, will have a number of Pride-related items available in time for the March 7 game. They will be available through The Hockey Lodge location at the Xcel Energy Center.

While professional sports organizations will put on Pride Nights to show their commitment for a single game and not do much outside of that evening, the Minnesota Wild organization is among the few sports franchises in the NHL that actually “talk the talk and walk the walk.” It is part of the organization’s mission and beliefs towards diversity and inclusion within and outside of the Xcel Energy Center.

Peterson adds that the Wild’s support for both Team Trans Twin Cities and Twin Cities Queer Hockey Association goes “throughout the year, not just on this night. In fact, we’ve donated tickets, we’ve donated suites, and we’re even donating ice time to both associations, both leagues.”

To firm their commitment to these two LGBTQ hockey clubs, Peterson also stated that both Team Trans Twin Cities and the Twin Cities Queer Hockey Association will “have an hour of ice time at Xcel Energy Center later this month. One team will be skating here on the evening of the 11th, and one team will be skating here on the evening of the 23rd. Then we invite them to join us in June when we march in the Pride Parade, that they are side by side with us in the Pride Parade.”

Photo by Minnesota Wild – Bruce Kluckhohn

Along with the two LGBTQ hockey clubs, the Wild organization is also committed to their support of Twin Cities Pride. Peterson stated that “it’s my responsibility to manage and nurture those relationships. I would’ve to say I’m most proud of the work that we’ve done with Twin Cities Pride.”

“I’ll never forget my first conversation with Dot Belstler,” explained Petersen when discussion his connection with the former Executive Director of Twin Cities Pride, “and how far we’ve come since that first conversation I had with her about three years ago. I’m sure if you talked to her today, even though she’s retired and now I work very closely with Andi Otto [the current Executive Director of Twin Cities Pride], that Dot and Andi would both say that we’ve really come a long way and that we’re not just talking to talk, but we’re walking the walk with them.”

“When we say hockey is for everyone,” said Petersen, “we mean it is for everyone. Whether you’re black, white, straight, gay, male, female, young, old, we want to grow the game. It’s a great game and we want everybody to feel like they’re a part of the game and they are welcome.”

We are looking forward to a warm welcome inside the Xcel Energy Center on March 7 for the Minnesota Wild’s Pride Night.

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