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Minnesota Sports Memories: Nordy

Posted on by Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Unknown photographer, Ade Johnson, Eveleth, United States Amateur, Hockey Association, c. 1922–23, Bernie McTeigue, Eveleth, United States, Amateur Hockey Association, c. 1922–23. Gelatin silver prints. Courtesy of the Minnesota Wild Photo Archive.

“Hockey was a way of life in my hometown of Eveleth, Minnesota, and it all began with Vic Essling, one of our early mayors, who put our town on the map by entering a team in the major league United States Amateur Hockey Association in 1920. That sparked great interest, which Cliff Thompson, who came to coach the high school and junior college in 1925, seized on. He created a hockey culture that produced great players who went on to play in the National Hockey League and at the college level.

The first great player to come out of Eveleth was Mike Karakas, who went on to play goal for the Chicago Blackhawks and help them win a Stanley Cup in 1938. He was followed by another goalie, Minnesota’s greatest, Frank Brimsek, who won two Vezina Trophies (best goalie) as well as a Calder (rookie of the year), with the Boston Bruins as they won Stanley Cups in 1939 and 1941.

But there were others, like goalie Sam LoPresti and defenseman John Mariucci. ‘Maroosh,’ as he was known, was a tough guy with the Blackhawks who had played for the Gophers and later coached them. One of the great college players he developed was John Mayasich, who helped the U.S. win its first Olympic Gold in 1960. But we can’t forget John Matchefts and Willard Ikola, who both starred at Michigan, and later pros Peter LoPresti and Mark Pavelich. And let’s remember that virtually all of these guys went to Eveleth High, which Thompson took to the State Tournament in 1945 and from 1948 to 1951, winning them all. That’s my hometown, Eveleth, the greatest hockey town in the U.S.A!”

—Nordy, Minnesota Wild Mascot

What’s your favorite Minnesota sports memory? Share it in the comments below.

Be sure to catch “The Sports Show” and “The Sports Show: Minnesota” at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, through May 13 and September 2, respectively.

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