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Minnesota, the State of Hockey! We're No. ... 2?

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Minnesota and ice hockey go together like mismatched socks and jerseys in a mid-January outdoor pick-up game – sure it isn't always pretty, but you can't question the commitment.

It's the State of Hockey for a reason. Just look at the 1980 Olympics USA Hockey roster – the Miracle on Ice gold medal may as well have come with a "Made in Minnesota" label.

But one other state is apparently trying to steal our wintry thunder.

An interactive map created at by Hans D. Stroo (and embedded below) breaks down the rate of amateur hockey participation by state. And Minnesota comes in No. 2 – behind Alaska.

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According to data collected from USA Hockey, Inc. & the Census Bureau, the State of Hockey has about 1,005 amateur hockey players for every 100,000 residents.

Alaska? It has about 1,152 amateur players for every 100,000 residents.

Update: Josh Hewitt, who runs the @MNState0fHockey Twitter account (that's a zero in the handle for "0f," not the letter "O") pointed the following out on Twitter.

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The United States of Hockey website noted this in a post looking at 2013-14 national hockey participation numbers as well. Minnesota's total player count is tops in the nation, at 54,507 based on USA Hockey numbers.

"Additionally, Minnesota’s high school ranks are not affiliated with USA Hockey meaning some of those players aren’t registered, so that puts this number a little lower than the actual playing population," the site continues.

So thanks to Hewitt for giving us some additional context.

Now, for some perspective – Minnesota has close to 5.3 million residents. Alaska has about 700,000. So the total number of hockey players falls way in favor of the North Star State.

And when you move beyond amateur levels and into the pros?

A total of 233 Minnesota-born men have played in the NHL, including 38 in 2014 alone.

Alaska has seen 11 of its natives play in the NHL, total. In 2000, Anchorage-born Scott Gomez became the first Alaskan to play in the league (and separately, also the first Latino player).

So sure, the only state that's farther north than our Northwest Angle also has a higher amateur hockey rate. Fine.

But it's pretty clear who the State of Hockey title belongs to.

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