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Spitfire of a Bronco

By Loren Nelson, Editor, 10/01/11, 9:55AM CDT

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International Falls' Pete Waselovich earns Top 100 nod for his unbridled intensity

Pete Waselovich

Born: Nov. 15, 1954

H.S. Class: 1973

Position: Goaltender

Rank
53

Status: Retired

Top 100 Scoring System

HOMETOWN HIGH SCHOOL COLLEGE
International Falls International Falls North Dakota

Notable stats

State Tourney Appearances State Titles All-State Tourney NHL Draft
1971, 72, 73 1972 1972 175th overall (Boston)

139

  • High School | Max 185

    133 points

  • State Titles | Max 10

    3 points

  • Post H.S. Career | Max 5

    3 points


International Falls goalie Pete Waselovich turns away a scoring attempt by Edina East's Jim Anderson as Falls' defenseman Tim Raboin sprawled to help during the quarterfinals of the 1973 state tournament. Star Tribune file photo

With ultra-quick Pete Waselovich tending goal, International Falls was state tourney fixutre


Goaltender Pete Waselovich cracked the International Falls starting lineup as a sophomore in 1971. Courtesy photo

International Falls had lost a state championship game to Grand Rapids at the Pee Wee level.

Two years later, as Bantams, it was Grand Rapids beating International Falls for yet another state title.

In 1972 the championship game of the state tournament was an all-northern Minnesota showdown.

International Falls vs. Grand Rapids.

Those same kids who had done battle for so many years were about to match up again, only this time the season-ending game was to be contested on the state’s biggest stage.


With Pete Waselovich in goal, International Falls won a championship and finished no worse than third in three straight state tournament appearances from 1971-73. Courtesy photo

Pete Waselovich, to name one Broncos player, was fed up with losing to the Indians (their nickname would later become Thunderhawks).

Losing always came hard for Waselovich, the wiry spitfire of a goaltender who as a sophomore on Day 1 of tryouts for the varsity team incurred the calculated wrath of legendary International Falls coach Larry Ross. Waselovich’s frustrations over his play (perfection was Waselovich’s only real comfort zone) reached a boiling point, and his stick and other pieces of gear randomly were being flung to the ice.

“It was the first day of practice, and Peter is in with a lot better players than he is used to playing against,” said John Prettyman, a Broncos senior during Waselovich’s sophomore year. “Pucks are going in where normally they probably didn’t. He was getting mad and throwing equipment.

“Ross told him, ‘Go off the ice an don’t come back until I tell you to.’ He kicked him off the ice that day. It sure didn’t take long for them to come to an understanding. By Christmas time that year they were great friends. Larry spent Christmas Eve over at Peter’s house.”

According to Prettyman, long before that first practice Ross had talked about finding a way to harness the young Waselovich’s intensity. More than anyone, Ross, himself a former goaltender, knew the importance of the mental side of playing the position.

International Falls was churning out some of the state’s best goaltenders in the 1960s all the way through to Ross’ retirement in the mid 1980s. Mike “Lefty” Curran, Larry Roche and Ron Beck all won state championships in the 1960s, providing Waselovich with a template for success.

“Larry wrote a book about goaltending,” Waselovich said. “And Lefty was in the pictures. I guess I developed my style from those pictures. I was more of a butterfly style goaltender.”

Waselovich started hockey late. As a youngster he suffered from Perthes disease, which is a temporary condition in children in which the head of the thighbone loses its blood supply and collapses.


Pete Waselovich is part of a an exlusive club of goaltenders who have appeared in three state tournaments. Star Tribune file photo

“I worked my way out of that,” Waselovich said, “but I didn’t start skating until I was 10 or 11 years old. I lied my way onto a hockey team. They played me as a forward. I didn’t know what offsides was.

“We watched a lot of Hockey Night in Canada in my house, and I started watching (goaltenders) like (Terry) Sawchuk, (Johnny) Bower and (Roger) Crozier. And I thought, ‘Why not?’ ”

Just like that, Waselovich became a goaltender. He lived within walking distance of South International Falls’ Carson-Lupie outdoor rink. Halfway between Waselovich’s house and the rink was a neighbor who sharpened skates.

“He charged a quarter,” Waselovich said. “He would sharpen my goalie skates and straighten them out, too.”

Waselovich’s skates, not to mention his body, took a pounding. Hockey was an all-day, every day activity no matter the weather conditions.

“We didn’t care what the temperature was,” Waselovich said.

Waselovich said he would join his neighborhood buddies in walking the 2½ miles from South International Falls across the Canadian border to Fort Frances, Ont., to watch the Broncos play their home games at Fort Frances Memorial Arena.

“It’s not like today, where parents are toting their kids around,” he said.

Learning to skate while he learned the inner workings of being a goaltender, Waselovich quickly established himself as one of the best in northern Minnesota. As a freshman, he helped International Falls’ midget team reach the national tournament. As a sophomore, he beat out two seniors for the starting role by late December.

“When he came on the scene it was like, ‘Wow this kid is a competitor,’ ” Prettyman said. “He was quicker than a cat.

“I can still remember, every time we got scored on, we would come back to him and it was always his fault. A defenseman could trip and fall at center ice and a guy would go down all alone on him and score, and it would always come back to him. He never blamed anyone else.”

With the young Waselovich in goal, the Broncos reached the 1971 state tournament, where they lost to Roseau 5-2 in the semifinals and finished third with a 2-1 triumph over St. Paul Johnson.

International Falls beat Grand Rapids 5-1 in the Section 7 championship game in 1972. The Broncos then routed Bemidji 8-3 in the state tournament quarterfinals and eked past Minneapolis Southwest 2-1 in overtime in the semifinals (with Waselovich making 38 saves).

Grand Rapids, which had reached the tournament through the “back door” as the Section 7 runner-up representing Section 3, awaited in the title game.

International Falls trailed 1-0 entering the third period, when it scored three unanswered goals to take control. The Indians scored with 28 seconds remaining to pull within 3-2 but couldn’t get the equalizer past Waselovich.


Pete Waselovich of International Falls was an instant college star at North Dakota, where he appeared in 33 games (then a school record) in 1972-73. Courtesy photo

Waselovich finished with 32 saves. After all those years of disappointment, the Broncos finally had defeated their arch rival in a season-ending game. The championship was theirs.

When the final buzzer sounded, did Waselovich fall onto the ice, overcome with joy? Did he scream and yell? Did he throw his equipment in the air?

No, no and no.

“The thing that we were worried about is Larry,” said Waselovich, who was named to the all-state tournament team.

Waselovich finished his high school career the following season with a 4-0 shutout of St. Paul Harding in the third-place game of the state tournament. International Falls had lost to eventual champion Hibbing 5-4 in a semifinal matchup that many observers considered the true state championship game.

Recruited by most major Division I programs, including the University of Minnesota, Waselovich choose North Dakota because of the opportunity to play as a freshman. He set single-season records for games played by a goaltender (33) and saves (1,126) in 1973-74.

Waselovich played high-level amateur hockey for the Warroad Lakers after college and still lives in Warroad with his wife, Rose. He works in technical support for Marvin Windows and Doors.

-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor

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Moorhead's Jack Stetz (21) throws his arms up as he and his teammates celebrated the win. ] ANTHONY SOUFFLE • anthony.souffle@startribune.com

Minnesota's Top 100 Players

Rank Name School Grad. Pos. Born Status St. Titles Mr. Hockey College Olym. NHL
1 John Mayasich Eveleth 1951 F 5/22/33 Retired 1948, 49, 50, 51 NA Minnesota (1951-55) 1956, 1960 -
2 Neal Broten Roseau 1978 F 11/29/59 Retired - NA Minnesota (1978-81) 1980 1,099 gms; four teams; 80-97
3 Phil Housley South St. Paul 1982 D 3/9/64 Retired - NA - 2002 1,495 gms; eight teams; 82-03
4 Tim Sheehy International Falls 1966 F 9/3/48 Retired 1964, 65, 66 NA Boston College (1967-70) 1972 27 gms; DET, HAR; 77-80
5 Henry Boucha Warroad 1969 D 6/1/51 Retired - NA - 1972 247 gms; four teams; 71-77
6 Mike Antonovich Greenway 1969 F 10/18/51 Retired 1967, 68 NA Minnesota (1969-72) - 87 gms; three teams; 75-84
7 Willard Ikola Eveleth 1950 G 7/28/32 Retired 1948, 49, 50 NA Michigan (1951-54) 1956 -
8 Mike Crowley Bloomington Jefferson 1994 D 7/4/75 Retired 1992, 93, 94 1994 Minnesota (1994-97) - 67 gms; ANA; 97-01
9 Dave Spehar Duluth East 1996 F 11/7/77 Retired 1995 1996 Minnesota (1996-00) - -
10 John Matchefts Eveleth 1949 F 6/18/31 Retired 1948, 49 NA Michigan (1950-53) 1956 -
11 Kyle Rau Eden Prairie 2011 F 10/24/92 Active 2009, 11 2011 Minnesota (2011- present) - -
12 Aaron Broten Roseau 1979 F 11/14/60 Retired - NA Minnesota (1979-81) - 748 gms; six teams; 80-92
13 Craig Norwich Edina East 1974 D 12/15/55 Retired 1974 NA Wisconsin (1974-77) - 104 gms; three teams; 79-81
14 John Pohl Red Wing 1998 F 6/29/79 Retired 1997 (Class 1A) 1998 Minnesota (1998-02) - 115 gms; StL, TOR; 03-08
15 Gary Sargent Bemidji 1972 D 2/8/54 Retired - NA Bemidji State (1972-73) - 402 gms; LAK, MIN; 75-83
16 Bob Krieger Edina 1970 F 10/5/52 Retired 1969 NA Denver (1970-74) - -
17 George Pelawa Bemidji 1986 F 2/14/68 Deceased - 1986 - - -
18 Bill Nyrop Edina 1970 D 7/23/52 Deceased 1969 NA Notre Dame (1970-74) - 207 gms; MON, MIN; 75-82
19 Tom Chorske Minneapolis Southwest 1985 F 9/18/66 Retired - 1985 Minnesota (1985-89) - 596 gms; seven teams; 89-00
20 Steve "Pokey" Trachsel Duluth Cathedral 1969 D 4/16/51 Retired 1966, 67, 68, 69 (Catholic) NA Minnesota-Duluth (1969-73) - -
21 Scott Bloom Burnsville 1986 F 2/6/68 Retired 1985, 86 1986 finalist Minnesota (1986-90) - -
22 Phil Hoene Duluth Cathedral 1967 F 3/15/49 Retired 1965, 66, 67 (Catholic) NA Minnesota-Duluth (1968-71) - 37 gms; LAK; 72-75
23 Corey Millen Cloquet 1982 F 4/29/64 Retired - NA Minnesota (1982-87) 1984, 1988 335 gms; five teams; 89-97
24 Reed Larson Minneapolis Roosevelt 1974 D 7/30/56 Retired - NA Minnesota (1974-77) - 904 gms; six teams; 76-90
25 Bob Young Hill 1971 D 3/1/53 Retired 1970 (Indep.) NA Denver (1971-75) - -
26 Brad Shelstad Minneapolis Southwest 1970 G 9/14/52 Retired 1970 NA Minnesota (1970-74) - -
27 Mike Ramsey Minneapolis Roosevelt 1978 D 12/3/60 Retired - NA Minnesota (1978-79) 1980 1,070 gms; three teams; 80-97
28 Matt Cullen Moorhead 1995 F 11/2/76 Active - 1995 finalist St. Cloud State (1995-97) - 966 gms; five teams; 98- present
29 Bill Baker Grand Rapids 1975 D 11/29/56 Retired 1975 NA Minnesota (1975-79) 1980 143 gms; four teams; 80-83
30 Paul Martin Elk River 2000 D 3/5/81 Active - 2000 Minnesota (2000-03) 2006 487 gms; NJ, PIT; 03- present
31 Wally Grant Eveleth 1945 F 12/8/27 Retired 1945 NA Michigan (1945-46, 47-50) - -
32 Brian Bonin White Bear Lake 1992 F 11/28/73 Retired - 1992 Minnesota (1992-96) - 12 gms; PIT, MIN; 98-00
33 Larry Olimb Warroad 1988 D 8/11/69 Retired - 1988 Minnesota (1988-92) - -
34 Dave Langevin Hill-Murray 1972 D 5/15/54 Retired 1970, 72 (Indep.) NA Minnesota-Duluth (1972-76) - 513 gms; three teams; 79-87
35 Joe Bianchi Bloomington Jefferson 1994 F 8/17/75 Retired 1992, 93, 94 1994 finalist Wisconsin (1994-98) - -
36 Peter Fichuk International Falls 1965 F 4/8/47 Retired 1964, 65 NA Minnesota (1966-69) - -
37 Jon Casey Grand Rapids 1980 G 8/29/62 Retired 1980 NA North Dakota (1980-84) 425 gms; three teams; 83-87
38 Doug Woog South St. Paul 1962 F 1/26/44 Retired - NA Minnesota (1963-66) - -
39 Darby Hendrickson Richfield 1991 F 8/28/72 Retired - 1991 Minnesota (1991-93) 1994 518 gms; five teams; 94-04
40 Paul Ranheim Edina 1984 F 1/25/66 Retired 1984 NA Wisconsin (1984-88) - 1,013 gms; five teams; 88-03
41 Steve Christoff Richfield 1976 F 1/23/58 Retired - NA Minnesota (1976-79) 1980 248 gms; three teams; 79-84
42 T.J. Oshie Warroad 2005 F 12/23/86 Active 2003, 2005 (Class 1A) 2005 finalist North Dakota (2005-08) - 184 gms; StL; 08- present
43 Scott Lecy Rochester John Marshall 1977 F 4/8/59 Retired 1977 NA Wisconsin (1977-81) - -
44 Scott Bjugstad Irondale 1979 F 6/2/61 Retired - NA Minnesota (1979-83) 1984 317 gms; three teams; 83-92
45 Mike "Lefty" Curran International Falls 1962 G 4/14/1944 Retired 1962 NA North Dakota (1965-68) 1972 -
46 Joe Micheletti Hibbing 1973 F 10/24/54 Retired 1973 NA Minnesota (1973-77) - 158 gms; StL, COL; 79-82
47 Rob McClanahan Mounds View 1976 F 1/9/58 Retired - NA Minnesota (1976-79) 1980 224 gms; three teams; 80-84
48 Nick Leddy Eden Prairie 2009 D 3/20/91 Active 2009 2009 Minnesota (2009-10) - 46 gms; CHI; 10- present
49 Tom Pederson Bloomington Jefferson 1988 D 1/14/70 Retired - 1988 finalist Minnesota (1988-91) - 240 gms; SJ, TOR; 92-97
50 Dave Christian Warroad 1977 F 5/12/59 Retired - NA North Dakota (1977-79) 1980 1,009 gms; five teams; 80-94
51 Jay North Bloomington Jefferson 1980 F 6/26/62 Retired - NA Harvard (1980-84) - -
52 Paul Johnson Breck 1953 F 5/18/36 Retired - NA - 1960, 1964 -
53 Pete Waselovich International Falls 1973 G 11/15/54 Retired 1972 NA North Dakota (1973-77) - -
54 Tom Kurvers Bloomington Jefferson 1980 D 9/14/62 Retired - NA UM-Duluth (1980-84) - 659 gms; seven teams; 84-95
55 Mark Osiecki Burnsville 1986 D 7/23/68 Retired 1985, 86 - Wisconsin (1997-90) - 93 gms; four teams; 91-93
56 Mark Pavelich Eveleth 1976 F 2/28/58 Retired - NA UM-Duluth (1976-79) 1980 355 gms; three teams; 81-92
57 Mark Parrish Bloomington Jefferson 1995 F 2/2/77 Active 1994 1995 finalist St. Cloud State (1995-97) 2006 722 gms; seven teams; 98- present
58 Bryan "Butsy" Erickson Roseau 1978 F 3/7/60 Retired - NA Minnesota (1979-83) - 351 gms; four teams; 83-94
59 Roger Christian Warroad 1956 F 12/1/35 Deceased - NA - 1960, 1964 -
60 Bill Christian Warroad 1956 F 1/28/38 Retired - NA - 1960, 1964 -
61 Trent Klatt Osseo 1989 F 1/30/72 Retired - 1989 Minnesota (1989-92) - 782 gms; five teams; 91-04
62 Erik Rasmussen St. Louis Park 1995 F/D 3/28/77 Retired - 1995 Minnesota (1995-97) - 545 gms; three teams; 97-07
63 Robb Stauber Duluth Denfeld 1986 G 11/25/67 Retired - NA Minnesota (1986-89) - 62 gms; LAK, BUF; 89-95
64 Joe Dziedzic Minneapolis Edison 1990 F 12/18/71 Retired - 1990 Minnesota (1990-94) - 130 gms; PIT, PHX; 95-99
65 Ryan McDonagh Cretin- Derham Hall 2007 D 6/13/89 Active 2006 2007 Wisconsin (2007-10) - 40 gms; NYR; 10- present
66 Craig Johnson Hill-Murray 1990 F 3/18/72 Retired - 1990 finalist Minnesota (1990-93) 1994 557 gms; five teams; 94-04
67 Matt Hendricks Blaine 2000 F 6/17/81 Active 2000 2000 finalist St. Cloud State (2000-04) - 137 gms; COL, WSH; 08- present
68 Wally Chapman Edina 1982 F 7/6/64 Retired 1982 NA Minnesota (1982-86) - -
69 Bob Paradise Cretin 1962 D 4/22/44 Retired - NA Saint Mary's (1962-66) 1968 368 gms; four teams; 71-79
70 Ben Hanowski Little Falls 2009 F 10/18/90 Active - 2009 finalist St. Cloud State (2009- present) - -
71 Damian Rhodes Richfield 1987 G 5/28/69 Retired - NA Michigan Tech (1987-90) - 309 gms; three teams; 90-02
72 Eric Strobel Rochester Mayo 1976 F 6/5/58 Retired - NA Minnesota (1976-79) 1980 -
73 Dick Dougherty International Falls 1950 F 8/5/32 Retired - NA Minnesota (1951-54) 1956 -
74 Gino Guyer Greenway 2002 F 10/14/83 Active - 2002 Minnesota (2002-06) - -
75 Jim Amidon International Falls 1963 F 2/18/45 Retired 1962 NA Colorado College (1964-67) - -
76 Karl Goehring Apple Valley 1996 G 8/23/78 Retired 1996 NA North Dakota (1997-01) - -
77 Rube Bjorkman Roseau 1947 F 2/27/29 Retired 1946 NA Minnesota (1948-51) 1948, 1952 -
78 Tony Bianchi Bloomington Jefferson 1989 F 12/15/70 Retired 1989 - Minnesota (1991-94) - -
79 Oscar Mahle International Falls 1957 F 8/22/39 Deceased 1957 NA Minnesota (1959-61) - -
80 Mike Randolph Duluth Cathedral 1970 F 11/5/51 Retired 1967, 68, 69 (Catholic) NA - - -
81 Aaron Ness Roseau 2008 D 5/18/90 Active 2007 2008 Minnesota (2008-11) - -
82 Doug Palazzari Eveleth 1970 F 11/3/52 Retired - NA Colorado College (1970-74) - 108 gms; StL; 74-79
83 Nick Checco Bloomington Jefferson 1993 F 11/18/74 Retired 1992, 93 1993 Minnesota (1993-97) - -
84 John Rothstein Grand Rapids 1975 F 10/28/56 Retired 1975 NA UM-Duluth (1975-79) - -
85 Gary Wood International Falls 1965 D 9/28/46 Deceased 1964, 65 NA - - -
86 Al Hangsleben Warroad 1971 D 2/22/53 Retired - NA North Dakota (1971-74) - 185 gms; three teams; 79-82
87 Doug Peltier St. Paul Johnson 1968 F 6/29/50 Retired - NA Minnesota (1969-72) - -
88 Mike Lauen Edina East 1979 F 2/6/61 Retired 1978, 79 NA Michigan Tech (1979-83) - 4 gms; WIN; 83-84
89 Max Oshie Warroad 1948 F 6/10/28 Deceased - NA - - -
90 Tom Gorowsky Centennial 2004 F 4/8/86 Retired 2004 2004 Wisconsin (2005-09) - -
91 Jack McCartan St. Paul Marshall 1953 G 8/5/35 Retired - NA Minnesota (1955-58) 1960 12 gms; NYR; 59-61
92 Doug Zmolek Roch. John Marshall 1989 D 11/3/70 Retired - 1989 finalist Minnesota (1989-92) - 467 gms; four teams; 92-00
93 Pete LoPresti Eveleth 1972 G 5/23/54 Retired - NA Denver (1972-74) - 175 gms; MIN, EDM; 74-81
94 Terry Abram South St. Paul 1965 D 2/14/47 Retired - NA North Dakota (1966-69) - -
95 Bill "Buzz" Schneider Babbitt 1972 F/D 9/14/54 Retired - NA Minnesota (1972-75) 1976, 1980 -
96 David Backes Spring Lake Park 2002 F 5/1/84 Active - 2002 finalist Minnesota State (2003-06) 2010 364 gms; StL; 06-11
97 Don Ross Roseau 1960 F 10/11/42 Retired 1958, 59 NA North Dakota (1961-65) 1964, 1968 -
98 Mike Polich Hibbing 1971 F 12/19/52 Retired - NA Minnesota (1971-75) - 226 gms; MON, MIN; 76-81
99 Chris Locker Duluth East 1996 F 10/14/77 Retired 1995 - UW-River Falls (1999-2000) - -
100 Herb Brooks St. Paul Johnson 1955 F 8/5/37 Deceased 1955 NA Minnesota (1955-59) 1964, 1968 -