Jim Hoey, who won a state championship with Greenway back in his high school playing days, has authored a triva book loaded with state tournament history. Photo by Helen Nelson
Jim Hoey grew up in Taconite and attended Greenway High School in the heydays of Iron Range hockey.
When choosing a book topic, he easily could have written about his high school playing days.
Hoey's teams attended the state tournament in each season he was on varsity (1967-1970) and won it in 1968, beating South St. Paul 6-1 in the final tournament game played at the St. Paul Auditorium.
Despite those state tournament experiences as a player, Hoey went another direction. He choose to write "Puck Heaven: Minnesota State Boys Hockey Tournament".
With all the history and traditions that surround the state tournament, and the mountain of sometimes difficult-to-verify information, why would one man try to tackle such a detailed project?
"Because the tournament is so great," Hoey said. "You see how much attention it gets. I am from the Iron Range where hockey is in our blood.
"Played in the tournament for three years and saw how special it was. I'm a big history guy, love statistics, love sports, especially hockey. It just made sense."
Hoey set up a table at this year's state tournament and has welcomed a steady stream of buyers for his book.
Even though the profits are nice, the bonus is the interactions he has had with people, even those who just stop by to chat.
"The best thing is meeting people and having them talk about their memories," he said. "They might have a relative, a father, brother or uncle in the book. It's been a lot of fun to find people's connection to the game or the tournament."
With those interactions have come edits that he to make.
In one copy that he keeps for himself, there are penciled notes and circles that correspond with post-it notes to remind him of revisions.
"I've made some contacts and have a bunch of updates already that I am going to make in the book," Hoey said.
One revision he will not have to make is from a prediction he made to a couple of Duluth East fans, who mentioned that they have a nephew on the current Greyhounds' roster.
"I know I am going to have to revise this already because I think Duluth East is going to win it this year," Hoey said.
"Don't jump the gun," the Duluth East fan said. "Take your finger off the trigger on that one."
They were right.
Duluth East had the top seed in the tournament and lost to Lakeville South later that evening.
Another visitor, who said he was from St. Paul Johnson and purchased Hoey's book, gave him some friendly ribbing, but truly appreciated his work.
"I just can't believe how many questions you have in there," he said to Hoey. "And that is just a portion of the book.
"It keeps us really busy at home.
In his book, Hoey has a photo of legendary broadcaster Howard Cosell, who made the trip to the Twin Cities to cover the state tournament.
"KSTP, when they had this, they brought in the heavyweights," Hoey said. "They didn't mess around with this. It was and still is a big event."
Even though Hoey and his teammates won the title in 1968, it is a tournament loss that sticks out to him.
In the 1970 state quarterfinals, Greenway was in a battle with St. Paul Johnson and, more so, with Governors goalie Doug Long.
St. Paul Johnson managed a 4-3 victory in five overtimes as Long made 61 saves.
With every trip to the tournament, Hoey has memories of that game for individual reasons.
"I think you always remember the first one in my sophomore year when we won, but the most memorable one was in my senior year when we lost in five-overtimes," Hoey said. "Doug Long was standing on his head. I dream about it every year, hitting the post in the third overtime, but that is still fun the reflect on that."
Now that his book is out, Hoey said he might tackle another project about the state tournament.
In "Puck Heaven", he wanted to include the top 25 games on the tournament, but was finding it difficult to fit the material in the book.
"I had 40 pages done, and that was just from four games," Hoey said. "I told myself that is done, I can't do that. I am hoping to do a book just on the most memorable games of the tournament a little bit later."
For now, getting the word out about "Puck Heaven" will occupy his time.
He has received a lot of attention of late, especially at the Xcel Energy Center, but this project is for all those that truly have a passion for the game.
"I wanted to do something for the people that made the tournament so great," Hoey said. "You hear everyone talk about, if they remember this play or that play. This is the thing to do to bring up those memories."
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