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US Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 1979

Robert "Bob" Dill
John "Jack" Riley, Jr.

1979 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Bob Dill is one of those relatively rare athletes who successfully combined a two sport professional career.  While the basketball-baseball combination such as Gene Conley is the more common example, Dill made his mark in both hockey and baseball.

The St. Paul native started in both sports at Cretin High School.  After graduation, he played the ice sport in Florida’s little known Tropical Ice Hockey League and then moved into the Eastern Amateur League with Baltimore where he was a teammate of United States Hockey Hall of Fame enshrinee Bill Moe.  Originally a forward, it was at Baltimore that he was converted to defense and there remained for his nine years in professional hockey.

Dill turned professional with Springfield of the American Hockey League and played there and at Buffalo for two and one half years.  In January 1944, the New York Rangers gave up four players to Buffalo to get the fighting Irishman and he played there through the end of the 1944-45 season.  A nephew of Mike Gibbons, a former boxer, Dill had that flaming Irish spirit and never evaded collisions though he carried only 188 pounds on his 5’8” frame.

Returning to his native Minnesota, Dill played five outstanding seasons with the St. Paul Saints of the United States Hockey League.  In both 1946-47 and 1949-50, he was a first team all star while in 1948-49 he anchored the defense as the Saints won the league playoff championship.  Always an offensive minded defenseman, Dill enjoyed his finest goal scoring season in 1948-49 when he scored 15 goals.  Retiring after the 1949-50 season, the converted forward continued his hockey ties through service with the Minnesota North Stars as a scout.

1979 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Squaw Valley, 1960. An underdog American team stuns the hockey world by defeating the great ice powers - Canada, Russia, Czechoslovakia, and Sweden - to capture this country's only first place finish in Olympic hockey competition. According to Coach Jack Riley, the team’s success was predicated on condition, dedication, and team effort.

From preliminary training camps in Minneapolis, MN and Boston, MA 22 players were selected to report to the final camp at West Point, NY by December 27, 1959. Under Riley’s tutelage the squad was pared to 17 players and departed January 15th on an 18-game exhibition tour.  Goalie Jack McCartan and Dick Rodenhiser reported in early January to West Point. Just before the deadline to complete all rosters three more players were named, former Minnesota stars John Mayasich and Harvard's Bill and Bob Cleary. All three are enshrinees of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. The changes proved critical to Riley’s squad as they swept undefeated through the preliminary and championship rounds to the gold medal victory.

After scoring victories over Sweden (6-3) and Germany (9-1), the U.S. surprised the hockey world by beating Canada (2-1). Spectacular goal tending by Jack McCartan and goals by Bob Cleary, and Paul Johnson led to the huge victory.  Two days later the Russians went down to defeat against the Americans for the first time in hockey history (3-2).  With 10,000 fans jamming Blyth Arena and a national television audience a goal by Bill Cleary and the tying and winning goals by Billy Christian with passes from Roger Christian and Tom Williams led to a wild celebration. 

The following morning at 8 o’clock the U.S. team played the Gold Medal game against Czechoslovakia.  Losing 4-3 going into the third period, the U.S. scored six goals in the final nine minutes to win 9-4. Roger Christian scored four goals, three in the third period. Bob Cleary scored two goals, including the winner, and Bill Cleary closed out the scoring in an unbelievable display of offensive hockey. Sound defensive play throughout the tournament, led by MVP goalie Jack McCartan and the four defensemen, Captain Jack Kirrane, John Mayasich, Bob Owens, Rob Paavola played a major role in the success of the team. The U.S. team outscored the opposition in the third period in all games by a score of 19-4.

Jack Riley was an outstanding hockey player at Dartmouth College whose career was interrupted by WW II while he was playing as a sophomore in 1941-1942 and returned to college in 1946-47 to captain the team that tied University of Toronto for the North American Championship. 

From 1942-1946 he served as a US Navel Aviator serving in the Pacific Theatre. In 1948, he was a member of the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team at St. Moritz, Switzerland. In 1949 he was a player-coach of the US National Team in Stockholm, Sweden. The US was the only team to defeat the world champions, Czechoslovakia (2-0). Riley scored both goals.

He served as the head hockey coach at the US Military Academy, West Point, NY from 1950-1986 and was also the assistant athletic director. He has been twice named NCAA Coach of the Year. Riley was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 1998. He received the Lester Patrick Award in 1986-2002.