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The Curious & Real History of Eveleth Trophy


This article was not written to call out anyone involved in the creation, issues revolving, admission, guilt, nor calling shade on ANYONE, or any community following reading this published article. It's not who we are as a human, it's not who we are as a website that has a strong history of grass-roots support at the youth level for MANY MANY years. We just want the true story told - as we know the true story - and people among the local hockey community "were talking; Why this? Why that?" (A few peoples names will be withheld out of respect)

In 1945, the countries first, and inaugural Minnesota hockey boys State High School Tournament was played at the formidable Saint Paul Auditorium - which proudly today still exists in the Capital City as the renamed Roy Wilkins Auditorium alongside Xcel Energy Center.

The Eveleth boys on the iron range took home the 1945 hardware convincingly beating the field by a scoring margin 30-3, with a narrow win over Thief River Falls 4-3 in the championship contest.

Although a photo of the Golden Bear boys WITH the inaugural championship trophy has not surfaced to date (and is not likely to exist following the intense research and photo harvest that was done to complete the Tourney Time book) - the boys affectionately named the trophy 'Bozo' (unclear as to why - and all the players from 1945 team have since passed on to ask as to why). Of note - the 'Bozo the Clown' show originated in 1959 - so this is out of the question as to the players nick-name for the trophy.

Out of respect for the inaugural 1945 trophy, the remainder of this article we will refer to the OLD Bozo and, NEW Eveleth trophy Bozo.

February 22, 1945 Eveleth-Clarion Bozo Trophy Quote

In tow with the 1945 victors, local newspapers quoted: "Grant & Cossalter kept polishing 'Bozo' as a Great Northern train carried the victorious team from Saint Paul to Duluth, where automobiles took the players the rest of the way home on the iron range"

Following a homecoming parade, old Bozo has sat within the 100+ year old history laden Hippodrome lobby glass cases since the Golden Bears boys captured the inaugural hardware.  It has been said regarding the Eveleth HIPP 'if only these walls could talk', 1945 Bozo could say the same, "if only Bozo could recite the grand stories he heard" between periods where Eveleth natives chatted between periods to warm-up as the ice was resurfaced, enjoyed a fresh bag of pop corn from the concession stand, and once smoked a cigarette/cigar together in the smoke filled HIPP lobby - Bozo was there to see and hear it all.

Eveleth Hippodrome Lobby

The storied tradition of Golden Bear players bringing State Tournament hardware back to the HIPP continued on the range for many years to come within Eveleth's proud mining community that was repeated in: 1945, 1948, 1949, 1950, & 1951 - a feat today that is written in the annals of State Minnesota H.S. history - that today in 2023 has never been repeated to date (5 State Championships over a 7 year span by any school in MSHSL history).  Records are made to be broken, but this feat possibly may never be overwritten - and it started with Bozo in 1945.

Fast forward to 2019 - the celebratory 75th Anniversary (Boys Tourney) and 25th Anniversary (Girls Tourney) were set to take place in one year 1945 for Boys and 1995 for Girls).  What to do to celebrate this anniversary? What to do to celebrate both the girls and boys together?  None other than think back to the inauguration year -1945- correct?


This is what took place as we know it today:

(The 'story' of OLD Bozo then gets somewhat fuzzy at this time as you will read), and who basically 'approved' what?

  • The idea was pitched by State of Hockey, MN Wild, and MSHSL presumably?
  • Who ultimately gave away the inaugural trophy within Eveleth - the Athletic Director, the Head Hockey Coach?
  • Who at the State of Hockey, MN Wild, MSHSL asked for the original trophy?
  • Was it the driving factor of the newly developed at the time - website that asked for the original trophy?

The person in charge at the time of said - was an unnamed daughter of a former MN North Star & MN Fighting Saints player.  Was there a huge driving factor to do 'something for the 25th/75th' Tourney a big reason for the decision to rush to create the Eveleth trophy?

Whatever the decision was, it was later made by distraught.

New Eveleth Trophy with the original '45 OLD Bozo, & original base attached

2-19-2019 Media Report: 'Beginning of the Eveleth Trophy':

The Minnesota Wild, in conjunction with the Xcel Energy Center, the Minnesota State High School League, the Minnesota Boys and Girls High School Hockey Coaches Associations and the State of Hockey, today unveiled The Eveleth Trophy, a traveling trophy that will be shared by the four Minnesota High School Hockey State Champions starting this year.

The Eveleth Golden Bears won the first-ever Minnesota state high school hockey championship in 1945. The original trophy won by the Golden Bears has been proudly displayed at the historic Eveleth Hippodrome since that first championship nearly 75 years ago. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Girls’ Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament and the 75th anniversary of the Boys’ Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament, Eveleth’s original championship trophy will once again be hoisted in 2019 and every year moving forward by Minnesota’s best in high school hockey. Now named The Eveleth Trophy, the trophy has been redesigned by Jostens and will become a traveling trophy to be shared by the four Minnesota High School Hockey State Champions each year. Each of the four championship teams will have the opportunity to celebrate with the trophy in their respective communities in the spring or summer, similar to The Stanley Cup.

"The Wild is proud to work alongside our partners to resurrect and celebrate the trophy that started what has become a rich and extraordinary tradition - the girls and boys state high school hockey tournaments,” said Minnesota Wild President Matt Majka. “The Eveleth Trophy connects the past to the future and honors the tournament’s humble beginnings.”
Representatives from the Minnesota Boys and Girls High School Hockey Coaches Association, the Minnesota State High School League, Eveleth-Gilbert High School, the Minnesota Wild, the State of Hockey and Jostens worked together to create The Eveleth Trophy.

The Eveleth Trophy will be on display at Gate 4 presented by Jen Jannett, the winning goalie for Apple Valley High School in the first-ever girls’ hockey tournament & Willard Ikola will be on hand as part of the 75th anniversary celebration.

“For years, Jostens has had the tradition and honor of celebrating champions at the highest levels of competition,” said Chris Poitras, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the company’s college and professional sports divisions. “This new high school hockey trophy is a great way to recognize championship performance at all levels, on and off the ice.”

The Patina - What's Going On?

Once the inaugural Trophy images of the proudly newly created Eveleth Trophy were released on 2-19-2019 as shown above within StateofHockey press releases - many started asking and questioning within Eveleth: 'That patina on that trophy (BASE) is real' - recall the cigarette and smoke from the HIPP lobby story as above.

The questions arose....

The Eveleth Trophy was NOT awarded for the 25th Anniversary 2019 Girls Tournament played March 6-9, 2019 - which this was slated to be the presentation of the newly awarded trophy for BOTH the 25th and 75th Anniversary Tournament GIRLS and BOYS teams this Anniversary year.  Nobody thought much about as it was a new trophy, and it had never been awarded before - this APART of WHY it was not presented during the girls 25th Anniversary tourney will come into play later in the story as we tell it as we know it - (as it was NOT ready at Jostens to be awarded).

Eveleth Trophy - White Glove Treatment Makes 1st Appearance

The Eveleth Trophies triumphant (in person) appearance following a social media announcement - made it's first presentation, with white gloves adorned at the presentation by inaugural Eveleth, USHHoF Museum President, and curator of MN Wild hockey history - Roger Godin with St. Cloud Cathedral winning the 2019 Boys CLASS A Championship.

Many awaiting photographers among were ready to see the proud new Eveleth trophy presentation.  Godin himself, now with Minnesota Wild as a Curator of History of Minnesota Wild, was once an Eveleth adopted native living in the iron range as the inaugural U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame curator.  The presentation with Godin was frugal, and one of a quick lobby photo presentation, not that of an ice Gary Betteman Stanley Cup presentation, presumably for the Eveleth Cup to make it's inaugural presentation, and quickly make the trophies fragile way back into the secure case (that we find out about later in this same story).

St. Cloud Cathedral 1st Presentation of New Eveleth Trophy

Ikola Awarding Eveleth Trophy to Giles with -damaged- Bozo

Eveleth-Gilbert Golden Bear Foundation & COVID that followed

Following the 2019 Tourney, and the aforementioned 'cigarette smoke patina' on the trophy, questions quickly arose with those among Eveleth - was the top of the newly formed Eveleth Trophy - the REAL ACTUAL 1945 'Bozo' Trophy, and if so - how could this be that it was?

Following a few weeks of calls, speculation of a few images that arose following the Boys CLASS AA Trophy presentation that again was presented in the Xcel lobby area to Edina Head Coach Curt Giles - awarded by both Eveleth legendary goaltender & longtime Edina Coach - Willard Ikola & Roger Godin again playing 'keeper of the cup' for pomp and circumstance in white gloves - a noted change to 'Bozo' was seen in obtained images - an extremely sad reality was soon discovered following the Tournament....

Damage to the trophy occurred, and a 'garage/quick' repair to Bozo occurred...

Tradgedy Strikes for 'Bozo', & the "Why" begins...

Following the lobby Edina team photo shoot in 2019 - Bozo was noted to be clearly damaged at the base of Bozo's skates.  A MUCH bigger sadness would soon be realized by the Eveleth Golden Bear Foundation that unraveled the entire story of the 1945 Trophy, and the new Eveleth Trophy.  Following a April trip to the MN Wild offices to retrieve the trophy for a local St. Paul gathering - where a member of the Golden Bear Foundation born in Eveleth went to retrieve the newly formed 'Eveleth Trophy' - it was fully unveiled as a SAD reality:

Bozo ORIGINAL was later found out to be repaired with JB Weld as a "quick repair" for the cameras that 75th celebration year as someone within the StateofHockey sadly/accidently caused the damage to the 75 year old trophy...

Close-up of JB Weld Bozo 'Repair'

'Rules' of handling Eveleth Trophy Within Case

After numerous questions as to the "why", "how" and who authorized this and that - a tangled web of this is the reality occurred:  The entire (original) trophy was the 1945 original attached to the new Eveleth named trophy.

  1. WAS the actual ENTIRE trophy attached - YES
  2. The TOP 'skater' portion of the 1945 'BOZO' was broken, damaged, and was attempted to be repaired using JB Weld - YES.
  3. The Golden Bear Foundation, and their members were among the impression that after sending the StateofHockey, MN Wild, Jostens, et al, a "new trophy mold" was to be made FULLY donating the Trophy for a short while by 'unnamed individuals within Eveleth' and not the original applied to the new Eveleth Trophy as a permanenent fixture as it was FULLY from 1945.....This DID NOT HAPPEN
  4. The 75th/25th Anniversary came to fruition and Jostens receiving the Trophy LATE - didn't "have time to recreate ALL", and they begrudgingly by some within Jostens - were told to use the original 1945 Trophy atop the new Eveleth Trophy (rewind to the tragedy part now)

The Eveleth Golden Bear Foundation found out - QUICKLY upon receiving the trophy for the Foundation gathering - that a copy was not made, and all the sad patina images with HIPP smoke became true:  The beloved inaugural trophy images and damages to the original trophy happened by human handling during the 2019 Tourney. 

An entire 1945 trophy copy was never made due to timing to celebrate the 25th and 75th Tournament. 

During the summer of 2020 - the Eveleth original "Bozo" and plastic base that made up the inaguaral 1945 trophy underwent much testing through Jostens.  Testing that had 1945 'damaged/J.B. welded' Bozo sent off to an Oklahoma factory for metal testing to determine if 1945 Bozo was made of painted Lead. 

1945 Bozo indeed was made of lead.  Lead of course in 2022 cannot be worked on by humans based off exposure risks.

1945 New Bozo/Old 1945 Base at Eveleth HIPP

Fast-forward to today - 2023

During both the 2023 State Girls & Boys Hockey Tournaments - it marked the 1st State Tournaments (five years after the trophy was introduced) where the Eveleth Trophy was awarded to the winning Class A & AA teams ON the ice.

Following the trophies inaugural (fragile) introduction that caused tragedy, to a National COVID Country outbreak and subsequent change of local MSHSL events was the main reason why new Bozo hadn't appeared until 2023.  Repairs at Jostens and issues of having an entirely new Bozo created not of lead, but of a casted new Bozo occurred.

Curiously, although Jostens had the original Bozo 1945 inaugural trophy, and BOZO being repaired JB Weld lead was ALL the issues, the recently presented 'Eveleth Trophy" at the 2023 Tournament base reads as '1949' leading to more speculation within Eveleth again as to 'who is giving away the trophies within the HIPP'.  After a bit of quick research, and looking into the Trophies as awarded by the teams, in 1948, 1949 and 1950 - all these trophies had a wood base.  Why the change to 1949 on todays Eveleth Trophy vs. the inaugural year of 1945 (as the original Eveleth Trophy also depicted)?

This being said, the CURRENT Eveleth trophy as awarded TODAY is a HYBRID (Based on our current knowledge):

  • 1945 Bozo molded top - that is curiously more GOLD looking than 1945 created 'remake' top for the original 1945 base trophy that is more bronze looking (located in Eveleth Hippodrome today)
  • 1949 tagged white plastic base: molded off of 1945 trophy

So in all :

  • Jostens created a new BOZO for the damaged 1945 original trophy
  • Jostens created a new BOZO & new plastic fake/faux 1949 base for todays Eveleth awarded trophy
  • Jostens created a new 'Gold' BOZO for todays Eveleth trophy (that doesn't match that of the newly created Bronze looking Bozo that was 'fixed' for damaged Bozo....(I know tough to keep this all straight).

New Eveleth -shiny gold Bozo- trophy @ 2023 Girls Tourney with 1949 Base

2023 Class AA Champions Minnetonka Awarded Eveleth Trophy

Original 1945 trophy base with new bronze Bozo 'top' within Jostens offices

1949 Original Eveleth Trophy (L). Alongside remade 1949 'New' Base, as shown today as apart of Eveleth Trophy (R)

The location of the 1945 (shined on the train Bozo ORIGINAL on way back to Eveleth is out there that we know of) - we will never give this information away.  This story needed to be said (some details maybe missing from the actual story as we were never in contact with those from all: State of Hockey that had apart of the trophy creation, MN Wild, Eveleth Hockey Association Board of Directors, and who ultimately attached the ORIGINAL 1945 Trophy TOP & BOTTOM to the new 2019 Eveleth Trophy.