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Made in Minnesota, 'Hockeyland' documentary hits theaters Sept. 9

The feature film follows the Hermantown and Eveleth-Gilbert boys' hockey teams through the 2019-20 season in "Minnesota's unforgiving North Country."

A videographer points his camera at a line of boys wearing hockey gear, sitting at the edge of a rink.
The documentary "Hockeyland" was filmed in northern Minnesota in 2019-20.
Contributed / David Greedy Photography
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DULUTH — "Hockeyland," a documentary feature that follows two Northland high school hockey teams through the 2019-20 season, will open in Minnesota movie theaters Sept. 9.

Movie poster for HOCKEYLAND features four boys standing against snowy landscape, holding hockey sticks.
Theatrical release poster for "Hockeyland."
Contributed / Greenwich Entertainment

The film follows boys hockey players from Hermantown and Eveleth-Gilbert. It previously had premiere screenings in Minnesota theaters in February, and it's also been featured in several national documentary film festivals. A dozen Minnesota theaters, including the Hibbing Cinema 8 and Virginia's Cinema 6, have confirmed bookings starting Sept. 9. Later in September, the release will expand to other cities in the Midwest and ultimately elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada.

"Hockeyland" was directed by Tommy Haines, who co-produced the film with JT Haines (his brother) and Andrew Sherburne. Their company, Northland Films, is billing "Hockeyland" as the third feature in a trilogy of hockey movies including a 2008 pond hockey feature and a 2010 film about the U.S. hockey team that won gold in the 1960 Winter Olympics. Tommy and JT Haines grew up playing hockey in Mountain Iron.

The film is being distributed by Greenwich Entertainment, the company that also brought the Oscar-winning documentary "Free Solo" to theaters. "Their proven track record with action-oriented documentaries and art house audiences is a perfect combination for an observational coming-of-age hockey story," said Tommy Haines in a statement.

Northland Films followed the high school boys' hockey teams through a plot-heavy season and launched a Kickstarter to put finishing touches on the film.

Critics have compared "Hockeyland" to "Hoosiers" and "Friday Night Lights." Writing in The Guardian, Dave Caldwell observed that "the film hammers home the fact that it is mighty cold during hockey season in northern Minnesota, with plenty of overhead shots of remote woodland, with bare tree limbs black next to the fallen snow on the ground. Best to watch this film in front of a fire."

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Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in February 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can reach him at jgabler@duluthnews.com or 218-279-5536.
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