Bruce Carlson, a member of the Edina boys' hockey team that won the program's first of 12 state titles, posed for a portrait recently at Xcel Energy Center. Photo: Leila Navidi * email@example.com
Bruce Carlson’s Northland stick, the wooden one he used as a junior playing for Edina throughout the 1969 hockey state tournament, features the scores of all three games and all 14 names of his teammates.
No mere keepsake, the heavy stick with a straight blade is at once a state tournament artifact and an indication how far the sport has come, equipment and otherwise.
The 2019 tournament is No. 75 and no team has become more synonymous with the event than Edina, owner of 12 titles. Carlson’s team was the first, signalling a coming shift in power from northern Minnesota towns to the metro area suburbs.
In 1969 Carlson, a wing, was thrilled to outlast Warroad 5-4 in a seminal championship game. The years brought perspective.
“Time marches on but somethings remain tried and true and the state tournament is one of them,” Carlson said. “It really speaks to the legacy of hockey in the state and the passion.”
Here are 25 highlights from the tournament’s rich history:
1945: The Eveleth Golden Bears wore the black and orange jerseys of Eveleth Junior College, outscored opponents 30-3 and took home the trophy they affectionately dubbed “Bozo.”
1951: Eveleth legend John Mayasich punctuated an undefeated high school career (69-0) with 15 goals, more than any of the other seven tournament teams scored.
1955: Minneapolis South outlasted Thief River Falls for a 3-2 quarterfinal victory in 11 overtimes. The game’s elapsed time of 87 minutes, 50 seconds stood for 41 years.
1963: For the first time in 19 years of the state tournament, the final game went to overtime. St. Paul Johnson edged International Falls 4-3 for its fourth title.
1966: The International Falls dynasty goes 26-0 and captures a third consecutive title. The Broncos also won in 1962 and nearly ran off five consecutive titles.
1969: Warroad star Henry Boucha left the championship game injured against Edina, which went on to a 5-4 overtime victory — the first for a suburban program.
1970: Six of the 11 games go to overtime, including the title game showdown of undefeated Minneapolis Southwest and Edina. The Indians prevail 1-0 for the only Minneapolis program title.
1977: Rochester John Marshall brings home southern Minnesota’s first championship. Goals from brothers Scott and Todd Lecy break open a tie game in the third period.
1980: Grand Rapids gets outshot 32-16 by undefeated Hill-Murray but future North Stars goalie Jon Casey stands tall in a 2-1 victory. Grand Rapids previously won titles in 1975 and 1976.
1983: Private schools joined the tournament field in 1975 and Hill-Murray became the first power. The Pioneers’ seventh trip to state produced their first title. They finished 28-0.
1988: Willard Ikola, goaltender for three Eveleth championships, became the state’s most successful tournament coach at Edina. His eighth and final title came against Hill-Murray.
1991: The state’s final single-class, eight team tournament is held. The event expanded to the ill-conceived two-tier format (1992 and 1993) and then to the two-class system still used today.
1993: The pinnacle of Bloomington Jefferson’s three title teams from 1992-94. The Jaguars, led by Mr. Hockey winner Nick Checco, Mike Crowley and Joe Bianchi, went 28-0.
1995: Duluth East forward Dave Spehar electrifies the state with hat tricks on three consecutive nights as the Greyhounds win their first title since 1960.
1996: Apple Valley ousts defending champion Duluth East a five-overtime semifinal. Still the longest tournament game played at 93 minutes and 12 seconds, the end came at 1:39 a.m. Saturday. Apple Valley goalie Karl Goehring made a record 65 saves.
2004: Centennial goalie Gregg Stutz was the first goalie to blank all three opponents as the Cougars won their first state title.
2011: In the third overtime, Eden Prairie’s Kyle Rau dived to scored the winning goal in the longest title game ever played.
2012: Grant Besse scored all five Benilde-St. Margaret’s goals — a championship game record — including three shorthanded in a 5-1 victory.
2013: Bitter rivals St. Thomas Academy and Hermantown meet for a third consecutive time in the Class 1A championship game. The Cadets won all three and opted up to Class 2A.
2015: Lakeville North (31-0) becomes the first undefeated large-school champion since 1993 Bloomington Jefferson.
The Minnesota State High School League is planning a year-by-year countdown of boys' tournament highlights on its website, mshsl.org. The countdown begins Dec. 21, starting 75 days before the boys’ tournament.
During the tournament, the Xcel Energy Center scoreboard will show historical highlights and tributes. The top six players will be recognized on the ice during the tournament's championship Saturday. All will wear commemorative jerseys.
Teams throughout the state are being encouraged to use the anniversary to honor their own heritage.