If there’s one thing Minnesotans love year in and year out, it’s hockey. For Minny native John King, each year also brings about the opportunity to celebrate one of hockey’s underrated pleasures: hair. This year, King’s Minnesota High School Hockey Hair Team – the equivalent of an NHL All-Star team, but for high schoolers with killer coifs – gave the top honor to a female player for the first time.
Carly Beniek, a junior from Breck High School, left all the other competitors in the dust when she unveiled her wavy blonde locks from underneath her hockey helmet, inspiring the competition’s MC to introduce her as Ra-PUCK-zel. Given the passion Minnesotans have for hockey hair — they have a multitude of terms for it, including flow, salad, dirty junk, and lettuce— it’s likely that the name will stick.
Hockey is traditionally considered an aggressive, male-dominated sport. That a set of players would set aside time each year to congratulate each other on their hair is charming enough, but that they finally gave the award to a female player feels right. Despite, or maybe because of, the first-time nature of Beniek’s victory, no one seems to be to upset about it. When it comes to hockey in Minnesota, players either have the flow or they don’t. A player’s Kentucky Waterfall is worn like a badge of honor, no matter what.
Even better, the entire spectacle is held to raise money for a great cause: King uses the annual award as a fundraiser for the Hendrickson Foundation, a non-profit that aims to give disabled kids an opportunity to play hockey.