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Year of the Ram: A ticket to St. Paul

The Rams celebrate after winning the Section 8AA championship. (Photo by Kim Drown)

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The Rams celebrate after winning the Section 8AA championship. (Photo by Kim Drown)

The vibrations in Minnesota are getting stronger every day.

As the sectional championship results begin to trickle in, fans from across the state are using whatever medium possible – TV, radio, Internet radio, message boards – to follow their favorite high school teams and create new legends out of wide-eyed teenagers.

In Edina, it’s Anders Lee, whose overtime goal pushed the Hornets past a tough Burnsville team. Minnetonka couldn’t get past Benilde, but no one could blame workhorse defenseman Jake Gardiner, who is likely going to be drafted by an NHL team in the first couple rounds this summer.

And in Roseau, it’s hard to look past the play of goaltender Mike Lee, who has backstopped the Rams to the state championship tournament for the second straight year.

Roseau advanced to state with a decisive 6-1 victory over the rival Moorhead Spuds. Dustin Moser and Tyler Landman each had three points in the win, which featured the Rams chasing Moorhead’s starting goalie from the net for the third time this season.

The game, played at a neutral site in Thief River Falls, boasted more than 3,300 people in attendance, meaning there probably weren’t a lot of people hanging out at the Brickhouse that night.

Like most things in Roseau, the Brickhouse Bar and Grille is intimately tied to Rams hockey.

“When they won state last year, the boys all came in for chicken wings after,” said staffer Julie Nelson, whose son Ben is one of the team’s top forwards. “They were promised wings and the girls team was promised desserts.”

A family-style establishment, the Brickhouse doubles as the semi-official clubhouse for Rams fans, who jam the bar when the Rams are on TV – usually the only time the TV is on.

“We were packed full last year (during the state championship),” said manager Margo Lee (no relation to Mike). “It was just like being there, with people yelling and cheering.”

Along with Nelson, defenseman Mitch Martinson’s mom, Denise, also works at the Brickhouse and Lee said the staff often dresses in Roseau gear on game nights.

The establishment also plays host to ‘The Best Ram Sports Show,’ a local radio program which airs every Wednesday night. The show features live interviews with coaches and players from different teams in the area, though it tends to be Roseau-centric.

The Roseau girls team had already qualified for state, but now the boys join them, so both squads will enjoy another tradition at the Brickhouse.

“We send them off with a big pasta feed,” Margo Lee noted.

The Rams will need the energy, because things get tougher from here on in.

Roseau eviscerated the Section 8AA championship, beating Buffalo 8-0 in the semifinal before drilling Moorhead. In the Buffalo game, the Rams actually had more goals than they did shots allowed, as the Bison threw just seven unsuccessful shots at the Roseau net. Against Moorhead, the Rams took the first 14 shots before the Spuds countered.

Seedings for the state championship should be known by this weekend, but Edina, Benilde and Roseau have already punched their tickets.

Three more games stand between the Rams and perfection and they’ll play those games at the Xcel Center in front of the biggest crowds of their season.

The Hockey News will be following the Roseau Rams high school hockey team every week, chronicling its journey on the road back to the state championship and providing an inside look at what its like to be a teenager on one of the most fabled varsity teams in America.

Click HERE to read previous Year of the Ram stories.

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