Born: April 8, 1947
H.S. Class: 1965
|International Falls||International Falls||Minnesota|
|State Tourney Appearances||State Titles||All-State Tourney||U.S. National Team|
|1963, 64, 65||1964, 65||1964, 65||1970-71|
From left, Tony Curran, Peter Fichuk and Keith Bolin formed a high-scoring line for International Falls in the mid-1960s. Courtesy photo
It all happened so fast, Peter Fichuk can’t say for sure how he ended up sprawled on the ice with blood spilling out of his mouth.
There was a backhand shot by an opponent, and a follow-through that brought the stick high in the air.
The stick’s blade connected with Fichuk’s jaw, that much is certain.
The blow was hard enough to send one of Fichuk’s teeth flying to the ice. Another tooth was missing but couldn’t be found. A woozy Fichuk was helped off the rink. He would not return.
International Falls was playing Richfield in the semifinals of the 1964 state tournament, and now, without their star center, the Broncos were in disarray.
“We really struggled, because when he left we didn’t know who the center was,” said Tony Curran, who for years dating back to youth hockey had played right wing on a line alongside Fichuk and left wing Keith Bolin. “We were all trying to figure out what was going on.”
The Broncos managed to beat the Spartans 3-2, setting up a championship-game rematch with St. Paul Johnson. The Governors had defeated International Falls 4-3 in overtime to win the 1963 state title.
International Falls center Peter Fichuk led the 1965 state tournament in scoring with seven points (4 goals, 3 assists). Star Tribune file photo
“We weren’t even sure whether or not Pete was going to play,” said Curran, adding that early editions of a Twin Cities newspaper had announced unbeaten St. Paul Johnson as winning the title.
Banged up and still in intense pain from the night before, Fichuk showed up at the St. Paul Auditorium and declared himself fit to play.
Sure enough, he was.
St. Paul Johnson’s Greg Hughes and Fichuk each scored twice in the first period, which ended in a 2-2 tie. A skilled and scrappy 5-foot-9, 160-pound junior, Fichuk assisted on the Broncos’ first two goals of the second period. International Falls led 5-2 heading into the third en route to a 7-3 victory.
“I was angry,” Fichuk said in an attempt to explain his inspired play. “I was mad because Johnson had beat us for the championship when I was a sophomore.”
Only after Fichuk returned home to International Falls did he discover the second missing tooth wasn’t missing after all. It had been shoved deep into his gums.
“Peter was a real, real tough kid,” said former Broncos forward Rod “Buzzy” Christensen. “He proved that when he got his teeth bashed in. There wasn’t anybody who could match up to him in terms of toughness.”
The following season the Broncos fielded a team some longtime fans and high school hockey historians would argue is the best the state has ever seen.
Fichuk’s line returned intact from the previous season, as did an equally explosive trio of juniors in Tim Sheehy, Peter Hegg and Dan Mahle. There was no question International Falls had the top forward line in the state. The only debate was whether it was Fichuk’s or Sheehy’s.
“Peter’s line was older, and those guys didn’t want to have anything to do with the idea of having the younger guys outplaying them,” Christensen said. “Larry Ross was the kind of coach who would let things go in practice, so yeah, it got pretty tough.
“Our scrimmages were a hell of a lot chippier than any of our games were.”
Peter Fichuk of International Falls scored 21 goals and added 24 assists in 31 games for the University of Minnesota in 1968-69. Courtesy photo
Fichuk gave up 4 inches and at least 20 pounds to Sheehy. They played vastly different styles. Sheehy was a flashy puckhandler geared toward scoring spectacular goals. Fichuk would use his speed to simply blow past opposing defensemen. He put as much energy into backchecking as he did his offensive rushes.
“We all got by without killing each other, so it must have worked out,” Fichuk said about the daily scrimmages that offered more competition than any of the Broncos’ games. “It was total commitment and camaraderie and all that.
“That’s what was nice, playing in high school and you knew when you got off the ice there was another line just as good going out.”
Fichuk had a goal and an assist as Broncos beat Roseau 5-3 in the quarterfinals of the 1965 state tournament. He scored a goal in International Falls’ 5-1 semifinal win over South St. Paul. In one of the most lopsided title games in state tournament history, Fichuk had two goals and two assists in the Broncos’ 7-0 blowout of Bloomington.
Fichuk’s seven points led the tournament, and he was selected to the all-tournament team for a second-straight year.
A smooth, powerful skater, Fichuk honed his skills in the early 1960s in what was a precursor to today’s specialized summer camps. Fichuk said he was in middle school when he spent two summers in Rockton, Ill., working out at the Wagon Wheel Ice Palace. Fichuk’s uncle, Chet Wagner, was involved in getting the rink up and running, and Wagner invited Fichuk and some of his International Falls friends to spend the summer working and skating at the rink. A professional figure skating instructor spent hours helping develop the future Broncos’ technique.
“He would have us going around the rink exaggerating your strides and pushing off hard,” Fichuk said. “You kind of wondered what you were doing, but he was having us develop a nice powerful stride. It gave us quite an advantage.”
Fichuk accepted a scholarship offer to the University of Minnesota, where he scored 21 goals and added 24 assists in 31 games as a senior in 1968-69. Fichuk had an invitation to attend the Detroit Red Wings’ training camp the following season, but military obligations forced him to decline. He played briefly in the minor leagues and was on track to play in the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, before being sidelined by a shoulder injury.
Fichuk, who worked as a salesman for W.W. Grainger, Inc., for 22 years, is retired and lives with his wife, Lin, on Rainy Lake near International Falls.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
The 11th Street outdoor rink in International Falls produced many of the players who went on to star for the Broncos in the mid-1960s during the peak of the program's dynasty years. Included in the picture is coach Chet Wegner, back left, and Peter Fichuk (front row, third from right). Courtesy photo
|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||-|