Born: July 28, 1932
H.S. Class: 1950
|State Tourneys||State Titles||All-State Tourney||NCAA Titles||Olympics||U.S. Hockey HOF|
|1947, 48, 49, 50||1948, 49, 50||1948, 49, 50||1952, 53 (Michigan)||1956||1990|
Eveleth's 1950 state championship team, front row left to right: John Drobnik, Mike Castellano, Dan Voce and John Mayasich. Back row left to right: coach Cliff Thompson, Les Curphy, Lavern Hammer, Bob McCarty, Ronald Castellano, Willard Ikola, David Hendrickson and John Nelson. Star Tribune file photo
Eveleth's Willard Ikola won three high school championships and two NCAA titles at Michigan. Star Tribune file photo
They played for sodas.
If the puck got past Willard Ikola, he bought the shooter a Coke. If Ikola made the save, he drank for free.
At least that’s how was supposed to work.
The way Ikola figures it, some 60-plus years have passed and there are still several outstanding debts accruing interest.
“We always had those contests, and those guys still owe me some pop,” said Ikola, Eveleth’s goaltender during three unbeaten championship seasons from 1948-50. “I was always a couple of cases ahead of those guys.
“But hell, none of us had any money back then anyways.”
Practices were tougher than games for Ikola, whose daily routine included one-on-one showdowns with some of the state’s great all-time goal scorers. Eveleth’s John Mayasich and John Matchefts still have their names scrawled all over the state tournament record book, and Ikola gave them both fits.
“That was an advantage for us, having practiced against him,” Mayasich said.
Added Matchefts: “Ike was a great athlete, and he didn’t like to lose.”
Ikola was so competitive he tracked the number of goals he allowed in warmups. Zero was the only acceptable number.
Willard Ikola of Eveleth led the 1956 U.S. Olympic team to a silver medal. Star Tribune file photo
“I remember a guy came up to me at the state tournament and said, ‘You know, I was watching you guys warm up, and you didn’t let those guys score,’ ” Ikola said. “I said, ‘Hell, they weren’t going to score on me.’
“If I was going to be an all-tournament goalie, I had to stop every damn puck because I wasn’t getting that many shots during the game. I made sure those guys weren’t going to score on me. That really made me a better goalie because you practiced against very skilled players, as skilled as anybody in the state.”
Ikola was a 5-foot-7, 145-pound bundle of fast-twitch energy. He went from football to hockey to baseball during the school year. There were also countless hours spent playing ping pong and bocce ball, among other games. Ikola’s hand-eye coordination was off the charts, right up there with his will to win.
After losing twice in the 1947 state tournament as a freshman, Ikola went unbeaten the rest of his career, a run of 50 straight wins.
“We would have a ball down there,” Ikola said about traveling to St. Paul to play in front of crowds approaching 7,000 at the St. Paul Auditorium. “Police would be waiting for us when we got to the St. Paul city limits and they would turn their sirens on and escort us right to the hotel.
“After we won, going back to Eveleth cops would be up there escorting us, too. The band would be playing, and there would be snowplows and fire engines. It was the like the Fourth of July.
“We had a lot of pride in that hockey team. We just didn’t’ lose in that sport.”
Ikola had four shutouts in six games during the 1949 and ’50 state tournaments. He holds the record for most state tournament shutouts with five.
“Ike held us in there pretty good,” said Ron Castellano, who graduated a year after Ikola. “He was something else. I remember up in (International Falls) he had a tooth poked out and kept right on playing. He was a competitor boy, I’ll tell you.
“As a captain he didn’t have to say much. He just looked at you if you were screwing around.”
Willard Ikola, who won more thn 600 games in 33 seasons coaching at Edina, remains one of the nation's winningest coaches. Star Tribune file photo
Ikola never received formal goalie training. He was self-taught, picking up tricks and techniques by watching some of the several legendary Eveleth goaltenders who went on to NHL stardom.
“If you were born in Eveleth, you were born with a stick in your hand,” Ikola said. “You were automatically going to be a hockey player. Brothers played hockey in hand-me-downs. It was ingrained there.”
Ikola studied the play of Sam LoPresti. A NHL goaltender with the Chicago Blackhawks before being called into service during World War II, LoPresti returned home after the war and played for Eveleth’s senior team.
In exchange for sweeping the snow out from around the goals, Ikola got into the games for free. He studied LoPresti’s every move.
“That’s how it worked back then, you just picked up stuff from watching the great players,” Ikola said. “Sammy was a big guy, and I was a small guy, so of course I couldn’t play like Sammy.”
Ikola’s stand-up, cut-the-angle style was typical of goaltenders from that era. His technical proficiency, combined with his athleticism, proved to be an almost unbeatable combination.
Ikola won two national championships and played in a third title game in his three varsity seasons at Michigan. He backstopped the 1956 U.S. Olympic team to a silver medal in Cortina, Italy, and was named the tournament’s outstanding goalie.
After turning down opportunities to turn professional, Ikola became the head coach at Edina. He guided the Hornets for 33 seasons, winning eight state championships and 616 games.
Ikola became a scout for the New York Islanders after retiring from coaching in 1991. Retired from scouting, he lives in Hopkins with his wife, Laurie.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
|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)||-||-|
|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|
|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||-|