Hockey season is not over. And the State of Hockey is still involved. Minnesota hosts the North American Hockey League (NAHL) Championship Series May 20-24 at Fogerty Ice Arena in Blaine. Owatonna High School graduate Collin Pederson plays for the Anchorage Wolverines, one of four teams vying for the Robertson Cup.

The format calls for a pair of best-two-out-of-three series Friday through Sunday according to a news release from the NAHL. The teams that advance will meet in a one-game championship event on Tuesday, May 24 at 7 pm. Fans can attend in person or watch on Hockey TV.

The Wolverines have been practicing in Rochester in advance of a Thursday official practice at Fogerty. Anchorage (4th seed) faces St. Cloud (1st seed) Thursday at 4:30 pm. New Mexico (3rd seed) plays New Jersey (2nd seed) at 7:30 pm.

During a December trip to Minnesota, Pederson explained how he ended up playing for a team in Alaska, "I went to a pre-draft camp in Grand Forks, North Dakota which is a three-day camp...So I went up there and I played pretty well. About a week later I was on vacation. I was actually in a boat. Got a call from Coach (Mike) Aikens and he said he thinks I have a legitimate chance of making the team. And he wanted me to come up for training camp."

He appreciated the opportunity, "I'm so grateful that it has and I'm having a great time. It's crazy how much the speed goes up and just the level of play. It's amazing. It's a grind but I'm having so much fun with it." This is the first season for the Wolverines.

Pederson said, "We're a really good team offensively. We can make plays and I really like that any guys can play with any guys. We can move the lineup around quite a bit."

And he has enjoyed the atmosphere at their home games, "We have the best fans I have ever seen. I think we are on a streak now of 11 or 12 games of sellout crowds. And they get loud. They get rowdy at games. It's awesome. There's just so much energy. It's just hard to play bad in an environment like that."

Pederson has also taken in the sights of the 49th state, "It's nice to go for a nice drive and look at the views. Because they're just spectacular. Anywhere you go up there is just awesome. Of course, there's wildlife, moose. I haven't seen a bear yet."

He has two assists while playing in all seven playoff games for Anchorage. He had 15 points during the regular season on seven goals and eight assists.

Pederson was a teammate of Zach Wiese at OHS and with the Rochester Grizzlies for the 2020-2021 season when they reached the finals of the NA3 Junior Hockey League. Pederson battled back from some health issues to have a great playoff run.  Wiese and the Grizzlies won the national title in March.

Pederson wore No. 6 with the Huskies, as evidenced below

Owatonna sports
Photo courtesy of Todd Walkingstick

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