Minnesota has a lot of really cool state high school activities traditions that make things exciting and memorable for student-athletes, families, and fans alike. The fact that several of the state high school tournaments are hosted on the massive stage of the state's professional sports facilities is particularly awesome.

Most Minnesota kids playing basketball, football, or hockey, for example, dream of playing at the home of their favorite pro sports team.

This is no more prevalent than the Minnesota State Boys Hockey Tournament. The unofficial 4-day holiday draws massive crowds from around Minnesota to see the spectacle. Being the "State of Hockey", many kids that have competed at "The Tourney" eventually go on to have prolific collegiate and/or professional careers, giving so many the opportunity to say "Remember when?"

While the venue has changed over the years and we've seen an expansion to multiple tiers of schools competing, there has been one constant over the years. Minnesota hockey legend Lou Nanne has been a part of the broadcasts of the state boys hockey tournament since 1964. This, however, will be his final year as part of the game broadcasts.

The legend of Lou Nanne

For those that aren't familiar, Lou is not a Minnesota native, but he's had a very deep involvement in the hockey history of the State of Hockey.

Born in Ontario, Nanne played his college hockey at the University of Minnesota, coached by John Mariucci while playing for the Gophers. Lou played professional hockey for the Minnesota North Stars, eventually going on to coach and be the general manager for the team.

Among Nanne's numerous other hockey contributions, he has been involved in hockey broadcasts over the years, including the role of color commentator for the MSHSL boys hockey for what is now his 60th year.

Nanne announced in January he will be retiring from calling games, ending a very memorable career as the voice of the state tournament.

Nanne state tourney memories

As the broadcast home and the other members of the broadcast team have changed over the years, Nanne's voice has been the steady cornerstone of the TV experience around the tournament.

Having such a notable Minnesota hockey dignitary playing a role in the broadcast conversations about the play of these high school athletes over the years has added an even higher level of legitimacy to what is arguably the biggest high school hockey tournament in the country.

Since announcing his retirement from the tournament, Nanne has been making the rounds to various local media outlets to talk about his years as part of the tournament.

Visiting with KARE 11, which (under a different name at that time) was the first TV home of the tournament, Nanne commented on how impressed he is about how the level of the game has evolved and grown over the years. He shared how he's enjoyed watching the growth of the sport over the years.

In an interview with FOX 9, Nanne shared how much he's seen the tournament grow over the years, highlighting that the tournament often draws more people than NHL games in some stadiums around the league. He noted that WCCO paid more for the broadcast rights in 1991 for the 4-day tournament than the TV station carrying the North Stars games that year paid for the entire season as a measuring stick of the popularity of this tournament.

During one of his regular appearances on KFAN in the Twin Cities, Nanne discussed some favorite memories from over the years, but also highlighted his one regrettable moment during the decades of analysis.

The 1992 tournament was the first year of the two-tiered tournament, breaking from a long-standing tradition of a single bracket. The move was viewed by many at the time as a bad decision, including Nanne.

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Nanne felt at the time the "Tier 2" (now known as Class A) games were lower quality, and he was not excited about doubling the number of games he was being asked to do.

During the third period of one of the Tier 2 games, Nanne recalled that the game was tied and he was asked by play-by-play announcer Wally Shaver who he thought would win the game. Nanne responded on the air by saying "First team that completes three passes will win".

He reflected on the moment, saying his emotions got the best of him. He continued by noting that the play at both Class A and Class AA has continued to grow, with a lot of impressive play at the Class A level that started out in the early 1990s at what Nanne felt was poor-quality hockey at the birth of the two-tiered hockey tournament.

Nanne did games for both classes for 5 years before eventually going on to focus more on the Class AA games, cutting down on what was a 14-game workload during that stretch.

Nanne told the Pioneer Press he will continue to watch the tournament every year, but the venue will be different. After this year, it will be from his living room, rather than from a TV booth. He did note one exception that might bring him back.

Lou commented that if any of his great-grandkids make it to the tournament, he'd make a comeback for a guest appearance.

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According to 2022 data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Gallery Credit: Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

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