Hockey has an enormous presence in the Upper Peninsula, from youth hockey, to adult leagues, and NCAA National Hockey Championships for MTU, NMU, and LSSU. Pretty impressive. And although many players from the universities have gone on to play professionally, and many locals have gone on to successful hockey careers, I only know of one Yooper, born and raised, to play in the NHL.
Jeff Finger, of the Colorado Avalanche faces off against the Detroit Red Wings tonight (a team I’m sure he grew up watching regularly) as Colorado hopes to keep their playoff hopes alive, however they’re down in the series 3-0. Finger played in the April 26th game against Detroit, logging over 19 minutes in ice time.
Finger is a native of Houghton, Michigan in the Keweenaw and at 28 has is playing in his second year in the NHL. Finger played in 72 games for the Colorado Avalanche during the regular season, netting 8 goals and 11 assists. After being drafted in 1999, Finger had a difficult road in front of him before making it to the National Hockey League. The local defenseman is now at the peak of his career and will continue to have success in the NHL if his play continues.
On his way to the NHL, Finger played in the USHL, WCHA, ECHL, and AHL before playing 22 games with the Avalanche during the 2006-2007 season.
This year is Fingers first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance.
Jeff Finger is in a pretty exclusive club. There have only been a few native Yoopers to play in the NHL. Of course there have been several NHL players to go through MTU, NMU, and LSSU.
It’s incredible to see a local hockey player work hard towards success in the NHL, an inspiration for hundreds of up and coming hockey players across the U.P.