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US Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 1976

William "Bill" Cleary
John Mayasich
Robert Ridder, Sr.

1976 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Bill Cleary etched his name permanently in the annual of American hockey history through his brilliant scoring efforts in the 1960 United States gold medal victory at Squaw Valley.  Cleary’s 12 points on six goals and six assists was tops on the U.S. squad and his early goal against the Russians set the tone for the epic 2-1 upset win.

Cleary’s rise to stardom began well before Squaw Valley though. A product of the New England prep school tradition, in his case Belmont Hill, the Cambridge skater went on to a standout career at Harvard.  Such Crimson records as most goals in a season, 42; most points in a season, 89; and most assists in a game, 8, belonged to him at the time of his graduation in 1956.  Cleary captured the coveted John Tudor Cup, an MVP type award, for the 1955 season when he led the Crimson to a 17-3-1 record, the Beanpot and Ivy League championships; and a third-place finish at the NCAA tournament.  Establishing a then-NCAA single season record of 89 points, Cleary was selected for All Ivy, All East, and All American honors as well as being named the most valuable player in New England. 

Following his college career, Cleary continued in hockey, playing on three other Olympic/National teams in addition to the 1960 squad.  Then, in March of 1971, Cleary took over the Harvard coaching reins upon “Cooney” Weiland’s retirement.  He had handled the freshman since 1968 and was Weiland’s assistant since 1970.  During the intervening years Harvard reached the NCAA tournament on several occasions.

1976 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

“Mayasich, who was probably the best amateur hockey player in America at one time, added muscle and hustle to the defense…,” so said Coach Jack Riley, speaking of the Eveleth born and reared skater whose late addition to the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team helped bring this country its first gold medal.

A product of the Hall of Fame’s native city, Mayasich has long been regarded as one of the finest amateur hockey players ever produced in the United States.  From the days when Eveleth High School was the perennial Minnesota high school champion, 1948-1951, his name was linked with hockey.  A member of four state championship teams, the smooth skater went on to three great years at Minnesota being named an All American in 1952-53, 1953-54, and 1954-55.  Minnesota went to the NCAA Tournament in 1954 and wound up in the finals in a memorable overtime game with R.P.I.  The Gophers lost, but Mayasich scored four goals and five assists in both tournament games as well as being named to the tournament first team.  His 29-49-78 and 41-39-80 scoring logs were good enough to win WCHA scoring titles in 1953-54 and 1954-55l

Following college, Mayasich was a performer with eight U.S. Olympic/National teams beginning with the 1956 silver medal winner.  It is, of course, the 1960 team which is so well remembered.  Mayasich, who had by this time been shifted to defense, played brilliantly.  His slap shot at Canada’s goalie Don Head was quickly converted for a goal which proved to be the winner in the critical 2-1 victory.  Declining professional hockey opportunities, Mayasich devoted his remaining hockey career to the amateur Green Bay Bobcats.

Hockey historian S. Kip Farrington has placed Mayasich on his All Minnesota team on defense.

1976 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Among those who have made Minnesota a leader in hockey in the United States stands the name of Robert Blair Ridder.  Bob Ridder was born in New York City and graduated from Harvard University.  At the time of his selection to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, he was the seventh Harvard graduate so honored.

Ridder began his hockey involvement with the Duluth Heralds, a senior amateur team in the 1940s. This interest led to a belief that a state organization for all levels of amateur hockey was essential in Minnesota.  Thus in October 1947 he, Don Clark, then president of the Hall of Fame, and Everett “Buck” Riley, International Falls, founded the Minnesota Amateur Hockey Associate (MAHA).  The Minnesota organization once ranked as one of the leading amateur associations in North America trailing behind only Ontario and Quebec in the number of registered players.  Virtually all of the Minnesota produced professionals had a part of the MAHA program.

By 1952, Ridder’s interests had expanded to international hockey and with Eveleth born Connie Pleban, he managed the 1952 United States Olympic Team.  Under his dynamic leadership, the team was successfully organized and financed.  In Olympic competition, the United States made a very formidable showing finishing in second place, one game behind champion Canada.  Ridder again managed the 1956 U.S. entry which was coached by United States Hockey Hall of Fame enshrinee John Mariucci.  This team also won a silver medal with a well deserved 4-1 victory over Canada as the highlight. 

When professional hockey came to Minnesota in 1966, Ridder became one of the nine North Star owners, an interest which he continued through his life. He was a United States Hockey Hall of Fame director for many years.