Born: Nov. 18, 1974
H.S. Class: 1993
|State Tourney Appearances||State Titles||All-State Tourney||Mr. Hockey||NHL Draft|
|1992, 93||1992, 93||1993||1993||137th overall pick (Quebec, 1993)|
Bloomington Jefferson's Nick Checco, who was named Mr. Hockey in 1993, was the co-captain of what is widely considered one of the greatest teams in state history. Star Tribune file photo
Opposing teams stopped short of draping white towels atop their hockey sticks and waving them in the air before squaring off against Bloomington Jefferson during the 1992-93 season, but there was a certain “understanding” by all parties as to how the game was about to play out.
The Jaguars were a fighter jet squaring off against crop dusters. The outcome was crash-and-burn inevitable, and everyone knew it.
Gary Stefano was coaching at Park Center that season. He brought his team into the Bloomington Ice Garden for a regular season game against the undefeated Jaguars, who were coming off a state championship season in which they lost two games.
Stefano wasn’t so much concerned about beating Bloomington Jefferson as he was keeping the game from getting out of hand.
“I said if we come within a goal, I’ll have my head shaved,” said Stefano, now the head coach at Maple Grove. “I think it ended up 5-4.”
After the state tournament and before his team’s postseason awards banquet, Stefano fulfilled his promise and had his top cropped. Park Center had, after all, provided the Jaguars with one of their few close games all season.
Bloomington Jefferson won its three regional playoff games by a combined score of 17-2 that season. The Jaguars were almost as dominant at the state tournament, steamrolling to a 14-3 advantage in their three games as they finished 28-0.
Nick Checco played in 166 games during his four seasons at the University of Minnesota. Star Tribune file photo
Leading the way was senior co-captain Nick Checco, a first-line center who played with equal parts grit and finesse.
Checco had a goal and an assist in the Jaguars’ 4-0 win over Hill-Murray in the 1993 title game. He had two goals and an assist in a 4-1 triumph over Elk River in the semifinals.
“I still get asked this question a lot, what it was like playing on such a stacked team,” said Checco, who was named to the 1993 all-state tournament team. “To be honest, we were just a bunch of friends who liked to play hockey.”
Checco said there wasn’t a lot of thought given to the implications of an undefeated season (no big-school team has duplicated the feat since) or the pressure of living up to such immense expectations.
“If there was any pressure, I put it on myself just because I wanted to play good,” Checco said. “Hockey was fun. We just wanted to keep up with each other.”
Starting when they were in grade school, Checco and his teammates spent all of their free time playing boot hockey in driveways or pick-up games at neighborhood rinks.
“To this day we are all still friends,” said Checco, who lives in Eden Prairie and works in sales for Stryker Spine.
Checco was named Mr. Hockey after the 1993 state tournament, a tribute to his all-around play.
“He was relentless forechecker, a hard worker, very unselfish,” Eden Prairie coach Lee Smith said. “He had good vision with his teammates, and he also was a good finisher. He played in all situations for them.
“He just was a tough guy to coach against because he did so many things right.”
Checco was never a top scorer for the Jaguars. That role belonged to teammates such as Joe Bianchi and Mark Parrish. Although he was an above-average skater, Checco did much of his damage with his body, throwing it at opposing players with abandon.
Bianchi said Checco would become particularly physical when Bloomington Jefferson squared off against a team that had an acclaimed defenseman.
“He made it very difficult for other teams to play against him,” Bianchi said. “Nick could flat out bury guys. He was a solid (5-foot-10), 5-11 in high school.
“If he knew he was going up against an elite high school player, Nick was going to hit them hard. He was going to sting a guy.”
Checco was drafted in the sixth round (137th overall) by the Quebec Nordiques in 1993. He played four seasons at the University of Minnesota, where he scored 34 goals and added 36 assists in 166 games. He played five seasons of pro hockey in the minor leagues, advancing as high as the AHL (one step below the NHL).
Even as youth players, Checco said it was drilled into the future Jaguars that hockey is a team game. That meant goals and assists were irrelevant in the big picture.
“For me, if it meant playing a physical game or getting a lucky goal, it didn’t matter,” Checco said. “We wanted to win, any way possible. If we had to rattle the cage of the goalie or get a big hit on a defenseman, any way we could do it we would.”
-- 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||-|