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Best of the Broncos

11/19/2011, 10:01am CST
By Loren Nelson, Editor

Top 100 pick Tim Sheehy was scoring machine for International Falls' dynasty teams

Tim Sheehy

Born: Sept. 3, 1948

H.S. Class: 1966

Position: Forward

Rank
4

Status: Retired

Top 100 Scoring System

HOMETOWN HIGH SCHOOL COLLEGE
International Falls International Falls Boston College

Notable stats

State Tourney Appearances State Titles All-State Tourney Olympics U.S. Hockey HOF
1963, 64, 65, 66 1964, 65, 66 1964, 65, 66 1972 1997

188

  • High School | Max 185

    176 points

  • State Titles | Max 10

    8 points

  • Post H.S. Career | Max 5

    4 points

From left, International Falls' Tim Sheehy, coach Larry Ross, Peter Fichuk and Gary Wood were featured on the March, 1995, cover of Hockey Coast to Coast USA. Courtesy photo

Prodigal talent Tim Sheehy won three state titles during peak of International Falls' dynasty

Larry Ross was International Falls’ hockey coach, but he might just as well have been the northern Minnesota border town’s mayor.

Or sheriff.

What Ross said was law. What Ross wanted he got.

No questions asked.

In the early 1960s, Ross wanted freshmen to play on the Broncos’ varsity. The town’s high school housed sophomores through seniors, and freshmen attended the middle school. They weren’t allowed on varsity rosters by school board rule.

Ross, who was a fixture at youth hockey games around town, hadn’t worried much about the no-freshmen policy until 1963, when a youngster by the name of Timothy Kane Sheehy entered the ninth grade.

Sheehy had size, speed, toughness and unmatched athleticism. He could stickhandle, skate, shoot and score. Sheehy, the nephew of legendary football star Bronko Nagurski, had led International Falls’ Pee Wee and Bantam teams to state championships. He was a proven winner.


International Falls' Tim Sheehy, left, and Roseau goalie James Nelson before the 1965 state tournament. Star Tribune file photo

Ross, who had guided International Falls to state titles in 1957 and 1961 and was on the verge of building the program into one of the state’s all-time great dynasties, had been watching Sheehy for years.

He had to have him on the varsity.

Now.

Just like that, the “no freshmen” rule was abolished.

Sheehy and longtime friend and linemate Dan Mahle, a big, bruising winger with a knack for getting Sheehy the puck, were freshmen moved up to the varsity for the 1962-63 regular season stretch run.

Sheehy and Mahle didn’t get top-line billing. Not right away.

“Larry had decided he didn’t want to move them along too fast,” Jim Amidon said. “If they had played more, we might not have lost that game to St. Paul Johnson.”

“That game” is infamous in International Falls hockey folklore. The undefeated Broncos, coming off the 1962 state championship and featuring the brilliant Amidon at center and an irrepressible sophomore line of Pete Fichuk, Tony Curran and Keith Bolin, again reached the championship game in 1963.

Amidon scored in the final minute of the third period to force overtime, but the Governors’ beat the Broncos 4-3 on a goal by Rob Shattuck.

Sheehy and Amidon, neighbors who had become close friends despite their four-year age difference, were the last ones out of the locker room after the devastating loss.

To break the uncomfortable silence, Amidon suggested that maybe the team could win the state championship the next season. Sheehy had bigger aspirations. He insisted the Broncos would win the next three state titles. Amidon had his doubts.

A wager was placed.

“Of course, $20 was a big bet in 1963,” Sheehy said. “But he paid the price.”

International Falls not only won the next three state championships, they did so in scorched-ice fashion. The Broncos exacted their revenge in the 1964 title game, routing St. Paul Johnson 7-3. Undefeated seasons in 1965 and 1966 were culminated by two more championship game blowouts, a 7-0 whitewash of Bloomington in ’65 and 5-0 rout of Roseau in ’66.


New England Whalers forward Tim Sheehy, left, barrels into Minnesota Fighting Saints goaltender and fellow International Falls native Mike "Lefty" Curran. Courtesy photo

Sheehy, who was also the quarterback of the football team, stood 6-1½ and weighed 185 pounds as a senior. A smooth skater with incredible speed and agility for his size, Sheehy had a knack for finding soft spots in opposing defenses. With Mahle and shifty playmaker Peter Hegg as his linemates, Sheehy left a vapor trail of would-be defenders in his wake.

The Broncos’ superstar scored a mind-blowing 54 goals and added 42 assists as a senior as the Broncos pushed their unbeaten streak to 58 games.

“We got accused of just feeding Timmy the puck all the time,” said Mahle, who was a 6-3, 195-pound block of granite. “Even Larry (Ross) would always say, ‘Why do you always pass it to Sheehy?’

“I would say, ‘God, he is always right there. Why wouldn’t I pass him the puck? He scores the goal, and we win the game. Isn’t that the best way to go?’ ”

As a sophomore, Sheehy scored the winning goal in a tough 3-2 win over Richfield in the state semifinals. As a junior, he registered a hat trick in a 5-1 state semifinal triumph over South St. Paul.

In the 1966 state semifinals it was Sheehy (who else?) once again grabbing the spotlight. He scored the game winner, with an assist from Mahle, in a 2-1 victory over South St. Paul. Sheehy was named to the all-tournament team three straight years.
 
“There were other players that were good athletes, but they only did as much as they had to,” Mahle said. “That wasn’t Tim. He put in his time. He was definitely a rink rat.

“If he had a weakness, he worked on it. The only weakness I knew Timmy had in high school was skating backwards, because he never had to skate backwards.”

Much like the high-energy – and often hot-tempered – daily practice battles between lines centered by Amidon and Keith “Huffer” Christiansen in the early 1960s, the Sheehy and Fichuk lines pushed the other to the extreme.

Sheehy and Mahle had the advantage in size. Fichuk’s group had the edge in experience. Motivation wasn’t a problem.

“We certainly didn’t want to let the younger guys get the better of us,” Fichuk said.

Ross, kept a close eye on those scrimmages, knowing full well he was sitting on a powder keg. Still, he didn’t mind the occasional temper flare or corner confrontation. It was all part of the plan to keep the state’s two best lines running at peak competitiveness.

“I think it really kept everybody on their toes,” Sheehy said about the Broncos’ maximum intensity practices. “We all forced each other to get better. It worked out. To this day everybody is still friendly.”

Sheehy had his pick of more than a dozen major college programs coming out of high school. Hungry to get away from home, he accepted a scholarship offer from Boston College coach John “Snooks” Kelley.

Sheehy scored 28 goals in 21 games as a freshman. He scored 27 goals as a sophomore and was featured in a Sports Illustrated article titled “Found – A Native Who Outplays the Imports” as a junior in 1969.

Sheehy was captain of the 1972 U.S. Olympic team that won a surprising silver medal in Sapporo, Japan.

As rookie in the WHA, Sheehy scored 33 goals and added 38 assists in 78 games for the New England Whalers. Sheehy played seven seasons in the WHA. He broke into the NHL in 1977-78 with the Detroit Red Wings, playing 15 games. He also played 12 games for the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80.

Sheehy, who retired from pro hockey in 1980, is a player agent living in the Boston area.

-- 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 -

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