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Walker Youth Hockey – Things I bet you didn’t know!

In November we had our monthly Business After Hours at the Walker Area Community Center. Walker Youth Hockey was our host.

It was a very informative evening. Along with a great set up of food and drink, we learned so much about our local youth hockey.

Walker Youth Hockey strives to provide the youth of our area the opportunity to grow and love the game of hockey.


Wolves Hockey started in the winter of 1997-98.  Players skated outdoors for the first 10 years.  Their first indoor season at the WACC was in 2007-2008.

Walker Hockey is an affiliate of MN Hockey and USA Hockey, which governs most of youth hockey played in the USA.

Walker has fielded teams as young as Mini Mites, all the way up to a Varsity program.

Seven years ago, the current leadership took over, with 11 Mini Mites and Mites on the ice.  This year they will be pushing 35 as the season progresses, with 32 on the ice for our first practice a few weeks ago. This leadership is focused on providing opportunities to play and having fun.


They offer hockey and equipment for FREE.

Currently there are 60 young people registered to compete this season and expecting another 10 to register in the future.  This represents families from Walker, Laporte, Cass Lake, Nevis, Longville, Akeley, Whipholt, and sometimes beyond.

While we were having Business After Hours, I spoke to a gentleman who was hanging around waiting for his son to finish hockey practice.  He told me that he and his son were from Bemidji, and they had been traveling to Walker twice a week for 8 years.  He explained to me that when they started, neither he or his son knew much about hockey, and as he called around to different places Walker coaches were the only ones who said “come and try it out, see if you like to skate etc.”   They have been welcomed, feel like part of the family, and not being bombarded with rules, bills and a multitude of paperwork His son thoroughly enjoys skating and participating.

Walker Youth Hockey is a 4-month tenant of the WACC. The organization pays around $40-45,000 a year to cover the costs of operations.  In addition, the hockey board owns much of the physical property that allows them to have and maintain the ice, the Zamboni, Ice Plant, Refrigerant, Boards etc.  To help with those costs the ice is also used by curling, Wildfire on Ice, and open skating.





Walker Youth Hockey is led by the following members on its board of directors:

Nate Gustafson, Ben Brovold, Holly Zubke, Matt McWaters, Mitch Loomis, Carl Pederson, Heather Rogosheske, Erica Strandlie, John Felton, Steph Hegg, Adam Jackson, Chris Strandlie and Brandon Zubke.

Walker Youth Hockey is also grateful for other leadership positions:

9 -10 registered coaches

Mitch Loomis – Tournaments, Officiating etc.

Ben Brovold – Coach, Vice President, and advocate for Walker Youth Hockey

Erica Strandlie and her team who run the Charitable Gambling. Local establishments that sell pull tabs include, Bayside Bar and Grille, Wilbur’s, The Piggy, Charhouse, Stompin Grounds, The Big Fish, The Big Tap, Benedict Outpost, Horseshoe Bay Resort and Popple Bar.

Impacts on our Community

The board put together an information form. Numbers were based on reports from Duluth Amateur Hockey Association Survey and Walker Youth Hockey.

The information was very well put together and we realized quickly that having a weekend tournament impacted the community greatly.  Some of the impacts were lodging, good/bev, retail, auto, bars, entertainment, and much more.  This is just the spending that each family is doing in our area during their weekend here.  There is also Direct Spending per team, Association Spending and more. Each tournament the association hosts generates an economic impact of roughly $117,921 to the local economy.

The Walker Youth Hockey will host:

3 tournaments every year

Each tournament takes 132 volunteer hours to make it happen.

Each tournament will have 7 visiting teams, each with 12-15 players and their families staying in Walker, at our hotels and resorts, eating at our restaurants and shopping at our downtown.

40 hockey games and 1 jamboree this year alone

Teams within our district from EGF, to Baudette, Warroad, Hallock, Roseau, TRF, RLF, Crookston, Bemidji, and Bagley, will be vising our area.


Knowing all of this, we asked the question:  Why not do more tournaments, more games to help with the costs of everything at the WACC.  They unanimously answered “volunteers”.  As with every other event and group, the same people volunteer over and over until they are burnt out.


They explained that there is no need to know the game, no need to skate and even be cold.  1 hour in the snack stand or 1 hour selling clothing.  If you find yourself looking for something to do for just one or more if you choose, please contact Walker Youth Hockey and get to know this great group of coaches, kids and parents.

Walker Youth Hockey has a goal to provide youth of our area the opportunity to grow and love the game of hockey.  As they do this, they also build family like relationships, install life lessons, and develop pride in our place here alongside the beautiful shores of Leech Lake.

To contact someone about volunteering or just for more information on Walker Youth Hockey please visit our website All contact details can be found there or visit our Facebook page.


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