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Eveleth Hockey First 50 Years 1903 - 1952

Eveleth MN Hockey Capital of USA

Source: Donald M. Clark Unpublished Notes

Eveleth, located on the east end of the Mesabi Iron Range, is sixty miles north of Duluth. Fort Frances and International Falls lie one hundred miles north on the Canadian border. The city of Eveleth, named after Erwin Eveleth, was settled in the mid 1890's. Large numbers of immigrants, mostly from southern Europe, settled in the Mesabi Range communities in the 1890's and early 1900's. Among these immigrants were great numbers of South Slavs such as Croatians, Slovenians and Serbians. In addition, many of the newly arrived migrated from Italy and Finland, as well as Scandinavian countries.

Reviewing the surnames of some of the hockey players produced in Eveleth during the 1903-1952 period reveals the "melting pot" nature of the community of 5,000 population. Italians are represented by names such as DePaul, Mariucci, LoPresti, Rolle, Palazzari, Bastianelli, Constantine, and Gambucci. The Finns by Kauppi, Juola, Langen, Saari, Ikola, and Suomi. The Slovenians by Longar, Prelesnik, Ceryance, Kochevar, and Rannikar. The Croatians by Mayasich, Pavelich, Battinich, Silovich, Begich, Namanick, Karakas, Mrkonich, and Jagunlich. The Scandinavians by Almquist, Peterson, Johnson, Martinson, and Erickson, while Richards, Murphy, McInnes, Phillips, Williams, Hammer and Rogers represented the English and Irish.

The first recorded game of hockey in Eveleth was played January 23, 1903 between Eveleth and Two Harbors. Teams in Duluth and Two Harbors had been playing the game for a few years previously

"The first game of the season was played last evening at the Eveleth Rink between Two Harbors and the local seven. The local team was defeated 5-2. The game was hard fought by both teams, as it was the first match game that either team had played in during the season. The visiting team did good team work and played a fast game. There was a great deal of off-side playing by both teams. Hockey is practically a new game on the Range. With proper support, Eveleth can put up a good team, as there is plenty of first class material here. A return game will be played with Two Harbors. The line-up last night was as follows:"

Two Harbors - 5 Eveleth - 2
Pierce G E. Ellingson
Renison P Woodard
Bury CP Blake
Classford F Horrison
Woolsey F Herman
Wade F F. Ellingson
Le Claire F J. Clark

The "Big Time" hockey had fostered an intense interest in the game in Eveleth and soon most of the youths and many of the adults were playing some form of hockey

The account from the Eveleth Mining News of January 24, 1903 

Interest in the game of hockey was simulated by the construction of an indoor skating rink in Eveleth, the first such structure on the Mesabi Range and the second in northern Minnesota. " Matt Andersons enclosed skating rink was recently opened. It's located at the end of Grant Street in Eveleth and is well patronized and is rapidly becoming a favorite place of recreation. It's ice surface is 75' x 150' and it is entirely covered. A hockey club has lately been organized under the leadership of John Herman. It will be called the City Hockey Club. The team will have practice with a high school and will arrange games later with Two Harbors and Duluth."  The account from the Eveleth Mining News of January 3, 1903

Following the initial game with Two Harbors, additional games were played against Two Harbors, and Duluth teams. The indoor rink lasted only a few years and with the loss of the building, interest in hockey diminished. Occasionally, a game was played against Virginia or Biwabik on outdoor rinks located on lakes or ponds. By 1914 the City of Eveleth had four outdoor rinks ready for public use. A few games for high school age and senior players were conducted against nearby Range cities, but the sport at this time had not yet become popular.

Due primarily to the urging of members of the local curling club, who had visited Canada to enter bonspiels, a meeting was held in Eveleth March 2, 1916 to discuss the erecting of an indoor sports building to house curling sheets and a skating rink. The location of the structure, most prominently mentioned, was the corner of Garfield and Adams streets. Groups present at the meeting were the school board, the curling club, and the city administration. World War I interfered with immediate plans to erect the building and it was not finished until 1919. The building, which featured a curling rink on the first floor, and a skating rink on the second floor, cost $125,000, a large sum of money for the time. The rink opened for use January 17, 1919. It was the first modern recreation building built on the Mesabi Range. Within a few years Virginia, Hibbing, and Chisholm had followed by constructing similar buildings. 

Leonard Peterson and C.H. Hale were instrumental in launching the 1919-1920 Eveleth hockey team. The team played their first game in conjunction with the Winter Carnival in the new Recreation Building on January 1, 1920, defeating Hibbing 5-2. Members of the team, many of whom were from Two Harbors and Duluth were as follows: Clark, Hedberg, Stein, Couture, Toppula, Sullivan, Le Fleur, Bastien, and Seaborn. Seaborn was from Canada, and was the first of many Canadians that Eveleth was the import the next six seasons. Playing an independent schedule the team finished the season of 1920 with 18 wins, 5 losses and 1 tie. Teams met included St. Paul, Hibbing, Duluth, Calumet, Rainy River, Virginia, and Winnipeg. Pathe News, a national news service, showed films of the hockey team and Winter Carnival in conjunction with the opening of the building January 1.

For the season of 1920-1921 Eveleth, known as the Reds, joined the United States Amateur Hockey Association as a member of Group 3 along with Calumet, Houghton, American Soo, and Canadian Soo. This season, the first for six man hockey, proved to be a very successful one for the team. For the 1920-1921 campaign the team was greatly improved from the predecessor with the importation of several Canadian players, among them Ching and Ade Johnson, Perk Galbraith, Denny Breen, Percy Nicklin, and Vic Des Jardins. The latter was a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Eveleth captured the USAHA Group 3 title with a 13 win and 1 loss record. In addition, several exhibition games were played against stronger teams than those in Group 3. In the national playoffs Cleveland of Group 2 defeated Boston of Group 1 in a four game total goal series by a score of 10-8 at Boston and Cleveland. In the national finals in a four game total goal series played at Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Cleveland edged Eveleth by a score of 14 goals to 12. The Eveleth team also won the coveted MacNaughton Cup by defeating American Soo 10-1. The public began asking, "Where is Eveleth?", "How do you pronounce Eveleth?",  and "What is the population of Eveleth?"

During the season of 1920-1921 interest in the team skyrocketed in the east end of the Mesabi Range. An estimated crowd of 1,000 stood outdoors in the cold at the local Western Union office awaiting details of the Eveleth-Cleveland playoff games being played in Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. In as much as the Eveleth rink did not possess artificial ice, late season games had to be played at the opponent's rink or at a neutral site. The interest created in the Reds led Mayor Essling to promote a second and larger building devoted entirely to hockey and skating. Essling, a native of St. Peter and a lawyer, was a first-rate promoter and developer. The new building, with an ice surface of 190' x 90' and a seating capacity of near 3,000, was built during the summer of 1921. Before the structure was completed a number of entangling lawsuits were filed which questioned the City of Eveleth's right to construct or operate the building. These issues became a "hot political potato" in the city. However, nothing came of the suits and the Hippodrome was opened January 1, 1922 before a full house as the locals defeated the Duluth Hornets 10-6.

For the season of 1920-1921 the Eveleth Reds continued to compete in the USAHA Group 3 with American Soo, Calumet, Canadian Soo, and Houghton. Eveleth represented Group 3 in the USAHA playoff and met St. Paul AC in the semi-final playoffs. In a memorable series Eveleth was defeated by St. Paul of Group 2 seven goals to six in a five game series. Two of the games ended in 0-0 ties, while St. Paul won two games and lost one. Eveleth was not satisfied with the USAHA placing them in a league with the weak Michigan teams and asked to be placed in a group with the large cities and stronger teams.

The groups in the USAHA were re-organized for the season of 1922-1923, reducing the three groups to two. The Eastern Group contained teams from Boston, New York, and New Haven, while Eveleth joined Cleveland, Pittsburgh, St. Paul, Duluth, and newcomer Milwaukee in the Western Group. After the 1921-1922 season the Upper Michigan and Canadian Soo teams dropped out of the USAHA. Eveleth finished the 1922-1923 season in third place with a 11 win and 9 loss record. St. Paul won the Western Group title and in the national finals lost to Boston at Boston in a close four game series six goals to four. Members of the 1922-1923 Eveleth team were Bernie McTigue, Ching and Ade Johnson, Percy Nicklin, Billy Hill, Perk Galbraith, Vic Des Jardins, Bob Davis, and Bob Armstrong. 

In the spring of 1923 the City of Eveleth, its officers and the city's bonding and surety company were sued in district court in Virginia for paying salaries out of city funds to its baseball and hockey players. Apparently, nothing came of the allegations.Minneapolis replaced Milwaukee in the league for the following season if 1923-1924. Each team played a twenty game schedule and Eveleth finished fourth in the six team circuit with 9 wins and 11 losses. In the western playoffs Pittsburgh defeated St. Paul and Cleveland and continued on to win the national crown. The popular Ching Johnson, a favorite with the Eveleth fans and those around the league, and his brother Ade left the Eveleth team after the 1922-1923 season to join the newly formed Minneapolis sextet. Newcomers added to the Eveleth roster for the 1923-1924 season were Herbert, Reise, Rodden, and Clark. 

The season of 1924-1925 proved to be the last for the USAHA. The same six teams as in the previous season comprised the Western Group, but the schedule was doubled from twenty games to forty games and divided into two halves of twenty games each. In the first half they completely reversed their form and captured the second half title. In the Western playoffs, Pittsburgh, first half winner, defeated Eveleth three games to none. Pittsburgh then won the overall USAHA crown by defeating Fort Pit of the Eastern Group three games to one. Rodden and Galbraith led the Eveleth team in scoring for the season.

The last season of "Big Time" hockey for Eveleth was that of 1925-1926. For that season Pittsburgh and Cleveland withdrew from the league. Pittsburgh, with almost the same lineup they had the previous season in the Western Group, joined the National Hockey League. Eveleth and Hibbing joined forces to form one team known as the Eveleth-Hibbing Rangers. The Rangers along with newcomers Winnipeg and Canadian Soo joined holdovers St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Duluth to form the re-named Central Hockey Association. The USAHA, of which Eveleth had been part since 1921, ceased to be an active organization, either in the East or in the West, and left amateur hockey in the United States without a governing body. Eveleth-Hibbing got off to a good start in the CHA, but bogged down in med-season and finished in fifth place, behind St. Paul and ahead of the Soo. Minneapolis, Duluth, and Winnipeg engaged in the playoffs, with the Minneapolis rockets emerging as the playoff champions. 

Thus, after the spring of 1926 and after six seasons of top level "amateur" hockey, the best in the world with the exception of the major league, the end of the route came for the Eveleth franchise. No longer would fans of the Mesabi Range see some of the best players in the world such as Tiny Thompson, Taffy Abel, Nels Stewart, Lionel Conacher, Herbie Lewis, Mike Goodman, Bill Cook, Bun Cook, Ching Johnson, Moose Goheen, Herb Drury, Vern Turner, Frank Galbraith, Roy Worters, Coddy Winters, Moose Jamieson, Mickey McQuire, and Hib Milks. High operating costs and the problem of protecting players from raids by professional hockey forced the Central Hockey Association to suspend operations after the 1925-1926 season. For the following season of 1926-1927 the league was organized as an outright professional circuit with a working agreement with the National Hockey League. Eveleth-Hibbing did not join the new professional league as the American Hockey Association. Thus ended for Eveleth the era of importation of Canadian players and an opening for the locally produced player to play on the Ranger sextet, albeit at a lower level of competition.

The Eveleth Cubs won the first State Senior Championship, sponsored by the Minnesota Recreation Association in 1926 at Hibbing. from 1929 through 1932 Eveleth teams won four straight AAU State Senior titles, while nearby Genoa Location captured the crown in 1933 and 1934. In 1935 they were displaced by the St. Cloud Teachers College, a team made up almost entirely of Eveleth natives. In 1930, nearby Sparta Location won the Minnesota Senior Recreation title with a lineup composed entirely of players of Finnish nationality.

How did the youth of Eveleth react to the high quality of hockey that they had been privileged to watch in the 1920-1926 period? Excerpts from a story written by Chuck Muhich in the State Sports News, November 15, 1953 relates their interest as follows: "Many a boy who later wore a Ranger uniform can tell you how he got into the Hippodrome through a coal chute, through an underground tunnel, and by means of a ladder reaching to a window. A game night found everyone in the neighborhood busy stowing away their ladders out of reach of the youthful raiders, Frequently the Hipp caretaker would snap on the light switch only to find a group of boys perched like crows holding down an entire section". Later many of these youngsters formed the nucleus for the strong Eveleth High School and Eveleth Junior College teams and continued on to become college, professional, and Olympic performers. The "Big Time" hockey had fostered an intense interest in the game in Eveleth and soon most of the youths and many of the adults were playing some form of hockey. During the depression years many Eveleth youth and adults spent their spare time playing hockey. In 1921, the Eveleth Recreation Commission organized teams and leagues and built and maintained several outdoor rinks. Scout troops, churches, lodges, clubs, and neighborhoods formed teams of various ages. Chickentown would meet Fayal and Adams would play Hayes in intra-city games. Adults competed in Class "A" or Class "B" leagues. It seemed that almost everyone in Eveleth was playing the game of hockey. In addition, the various mining locations adjunct to Eveleth, such as Leonidas, Genoa, Iron, Cherry, Sparta, and Spruce iced hockey teams with some of them having very strong adult and senior teams.

Ade Johnson, a member of the Eveleth Reds, coached the first varsity High School team formed for the season of 1920-1921. Members of the first team were: Matt Lahti, Aro Ellison, Pete Brascugli, Tito Muscatelli, Nill la Vigne, Roy Damberg, and Ted Juola. The first team met Duluth Central, Virginia, and Hibbing. Later in the twenties Duluth Denfeld, Fort Frances, and Chisholm were added to the schedule. In 1923 and 1925 Eveleth met and defeated St. Paul Mechanic Arts in a game billed as being for the state mythical title. Four members of the 1925 team later turned professional including: Billy De Paul, Glee Jagunich, Oscar Almquist, and Tony Prelesnik.

Cliff Thompson, a former Minneapolis Central and University of Minnesota player, became coach at Eveleth High School in 1926. he coached the High School team for 32 years, retiring in 1958. After the Minnesota State High School tournament was inaugurated in St. Paul in 1945, Eveleth won five state titles with those coming in 1945, 1948, 1949, 1950, and 1951. During this era two separate winning streaks of 78 and 58 were established. Thompson also coached the Eveleth Junior College team, which recorded a 171 win, 28 loss, and 7 tie record from the 1928-1940 period. Thompson's high school record was 534 wins, 26 losses, and 9 ties for a percentage of .946. Eveleth Junior College was ranked the number one college team in the nation for the 1928-1929 season by the ranking system of Professor Theodore Tonnele of Princeton University. Yale was ranked second, Minnesota third, and Clarkson fourth. One of the strongest opponents on this team's schedule was Eveleth High School which the Junior College six had a hard time defeating in a 4-3 contest.

The 1927-1928 Junior College team along with the University Club of Boston, Harvard University, University of Minnesota, and Augsburg College were considered as candidates to represent the Unites States in the 1928 Winter Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Holland. Either for lack of finances or students missing classes, all of the teams except Augsburg declined the opportunity. However the United States Olympic Committee, under the chairmanship of General Douglas Mac Arthur, would not approve the team. Consequently, the United States was not represented at the 1928 Winter Games.

Cliff Thompson was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of fame in 1973. Part of the write-up inscribed on his pylon reads as follows: "Generations of Eveleth youngsters received hockey instruction from Cliff Thompson, and in addition to his giving them the best hockey leadership he was the object of deep affection that only boys can have for a man as close to them as their coach and teacher, Many stories are told how Cliff Thompson helped dozens of youngsters get a good pair of skates during the depression."

Eveleth's claim to hockey fame can be traced to Thompson's efforts in player development. During the first fifty years of Eveleth hockey ten Eveleth players went on to perform in the National Hockey League, all of them having played for Thompson. They are listed as follows: Frank Brimsek, Mike Karakas, Sam Lo Presti, John Mariucci, Aldo Palazzari, Joe Papike, Milton Brink, Al Suomi, Paul Schaeffer, and Rudy Ahlin. Thompson developed players whom continued on to compete in both college and Olympic/National stardom were John Mayasich, John Matchefts, Willard and Roy Ikola, Andre Gambucci, Tom Turkovich, Pat Finnegan, Leonard Saari, and Neil Ceeley.

Those from the Thompson era who played professionally in the AHL, AHA, USHL, and PCHL include: Tom and Mike Karakas, Frank Ceryance, Alex McInnes, Andy Toth, Norb Sterle, Aldo Palazzari, Al, Joe, and Eddo Papike, Paul Schaeffer, Milt Brink, Hodge Johnson, Pete Pleban, Joe Kucler, Rudy Ahlin, Art Erickson, Mike Kasher, Oscar Almquist, Tony Nemanick, Sam and John Phillips, Sam Lo Presti, Bill De Paul, John and Tony Prelesnik, Glee Jagunich, John Mariucci, and Frank Brimsek. The first Eveleth player to sign a professional contract was Mike Karakas, who signed with Tulsa of the AHA for the season of 1930-1931. Tony Prelesnik, and Bill DePaul turned pro for the season of 1931-1932, while Hodge Johnson, Andy Toth, and Glee Jagunich signed the following season. Gilbert Finnegan, former Eveleth postmaster and father of Pat Finnegan followed the fortunes of Eveleth hockey players, stated that "during one season in the depression era there were 147 Eveleth boys playing hockey on professional, college, semi-pro, and senior open teams located in all sections of the United States." Evelethonians were members of teams stretching from Duluth to Houston and Boston to San Diego. Eveleth players could be found playing in colleges such as: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Marquette, St. Cloud, USC, UCLA, Illinois, St. Marys, Loyola of California, North Dakota, Michigan, and others and/or senior open teams such as Boston Olympics, New York Rovers, Hibbing, Denver, Johnstown, Baltimore, Atlantic City, Hershey, Detroit, Chicago, Muskegon, Houghton, Marquette, Soo, Eagle River, San Diego, Duluth, and Pittsburgh. Where ever the game was played in the country Eveleth players were to be found. In 1935 the National AAU tournament in Chicago, involved eight teams from as far east as Boston and as far west as Minneapolis. One third of the players on the eight teams were from Eveleth. The winning Chicago Baby Ruth team, coached by Eveleth's Connie Pleban, had nine Eveleth natives on it's thirteen man roster. San Diego won the Pacific Coast title with a team led by the Papike brothers and manned entirely by Eveleth players with one exception. In the three year period of 1933-1934 through 1935-1936 St. Cloud Teachers College, manned almost entirely by Eveleth players, posted a respectable 45-7-0 record. In 1935 they finished third in the National AAU tournament losing 2-0 to the champion Chicago Baby Ruth team, a team again composed almost entirely of Eveleth players.

Among the Eveleth players from this period who played college hockey were:

MINNESOTA- Alex McInnes, Ben Constantine, Pat Finnegan, Andy Toth, Glen Rolle, Bruce Shutte, Roland DePaul, Dave Rodda, Don Forte, Mel Peterson, John Mayasich, John Mariucci, Tom Karakas, John Suomi, and Jerry Norman. MICHIGAN- Bill Langen, Wally Grant, Neil Celley, Ron Martinson, Willard Ikola, John Matchefts, and Clem Cossalter. NORTH DAKOTA- Pat Finnegan, Tom Yurkovich, Joe Silovich, Bob Bagan, and Mike Castellano. COLORADO COLLEGE- Roy Ikola, Andy Gambucci, and Milo Yalich. ILLINOIS- Tom Karakas, Aldo Palazzari, Dennis Rolle, Norb Storle, and Arnold De Paul. ST. CLOUD TEACHERS COLLEGE- George Anderson, Frank Brimsek, Bernie Bjork, Art Salpacka, Ken Lundberg, Ray Gasperlin, Cliff Kauppi, Roland Vandell, Robert and Walter De Paul, Serge Gambucci, and Ron Castellano. MICHIGAN STATE- Gus and David Hendrickson ST. MARY'S- Tony, Ed, and Louis Prelesnik, Oscar Almquist, and Matt Lahti. Several Eveleth players migrated to the Pacific Coast to compete in college hockey. Tony Urbiha, and Eugene Peschel played at UCLA, while Julien Malec, Earl Swarthout, Stan Peterlin, and Bill Bernicke donned the uniform of LOYOLA. During the late 1930's and early 1940's some of the best college hockey in the country was played at Loyola, Southern California, UCLA, and California.

Additional players from the era who were associated with playing college hockey, semi-pro, and/or senior open hockey include: Joe Prebonich, George Prebeg, John Rozinka, Frank Rannikar, Jack Longar, Ben Swarthout, Peter and Steve Battinich, Joe and Al Bastianelli, John Mayasich, Lavern Hammer, Don and Jerry Judnick, Joe and Frank Laurich, Art Richards, Tony Lenich, Clarence Sequin, Joe and Louis Shavor, Bob Strand, Connie Pleban, Dick Peterson, Henry Bots, Mauritz Urbohn, Sandy Constantine, Elio Gambucci, Dominick Blatnick, Matt Skrinner, Mario Palazzari, Bill Nemgar, Al Lo Presti, Luke and John Karakas, Jack Semick, John Brimsek, Anton Kausek, Ward Brown, Patsy DeLeo, Mike Prebarich, Dave Markovich and Langie Pavkovich.

Owning to the demise of the CHA in 1926 the Arrowhead League, an amateur circuit was formed in 1927 with teams from Eveleth, Hibbing, Virginia, Duluth, and Fort Frances. Eveleth's team, known as the Rangers, was composed entirely of local players. For the season of 1931-1932 Minneapolis, St. Paul, Hibbing, Eveleth, and Virginia formed the amateur Central Hockey League. After the first season of operation Virginia withdrew from the league and it became a professional circuit. The league ran through the season of 1934-1935. With few exceptions the players on the league were Minnesota natives and twenty of the sixty-five players in the league were from Eveleth. An idea of the caliber of the Central League can be judged by noting that St. Paul, champion of the CHL in 1935, defeated the St. Louis Flyers, American Hockey Association titleists, three games to none in interleague playoffs conducted at the end of the season. For the 1934-1935 season the CHL and the AHA played an interlocking schedule Eveleth with a home grown team captured the 1931-1932 CHL regular season championship, despite the fact that they played the entire 35 game schedule without the advantage of having a home rink. All their games for the season were played on the road as their indoor rink had been condemned. Around the league the Eveleth team was nicknamed the "Orphans".

The following Eveleth natives competed for the various teams in the Central Hockey League: Milton Brink, Glee Jagunich, Rudy Ahlin, Art Erickson, Andy Toth, Joe Papil, Hodge Johnson, Alex McInnes, Pete Pleban, Frank Ceryance, Paul Schaeffer, Bill De Paul, John and Tony Prelesnik, P.I. Murphy, Al Soumi, Mike Kasher, Frank De Leo, Oscar Almquist, Sam and John Phillips, and Sandy Constantine. In 1937 Hibbing, Eveleth, Duluth, Port Arthur, and Fort William formed the International Hockey League. Later Fort William and Port Arthur dropped out and Fort Frances joined the circuit. Again, as in the past, many of the players in the league were Eveleth products. With the start of World War II the league disbanded and there was no Senior hockey in Eveleth. However, a strong four team industrial league operated in Duluth during the war, which provided the opportunity for many Eveleth players to perform. 

After World War II the Northern Amateur Hockey League was formed with teams from Duluth, Hibbing, Virginia, Eveleth, and Fort Frances. The Northern League disbanded after the 1950-1951 season and for the season of 1951-1952. Eveleth and Hibbing joined the American Amateur Hockey Association along with Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, and Sioux City. For the season of 1952-1953 the name of the league was changed to the Central Hockey League. After one season in operation in the CHL, Eveleth withdrew from the circuit. In the fall of 1954, Len Naymark, a promoter from Duluth organized a team at Eveleth, composed in part of Canadian Junior age players and joined Hibbing, Fort Frances, Port Arthur, and Fort William in the Thunder Bay Senior Hockey League. Although the league played an entertaining brand of hockey, Eveleth and Hibbing failed to draw crowds necessary to finance their teams and both teams withdrew from the league in late December. Thus ended Eveleth's participation in Senior open competition. 

During this period Eveleth became widely known as the "Goalie City", as young players in Eveleth aspired to follow in the footsteps of Brimsek, Karakas, Lo Presti, Almquist, and Ceryance.  Jack Mavelich, a longtime coach and Athletic Director, recalls: "Watching the youngsters play street hockey by setting up goals in the snowbanks on each side of the street and competing in their boots and/or overshoes. Thus they became adept at stickhandling and goaltending."

Mike Karakas, the first Eveleth player to turn professional, played for five seasons in the American Hockey Association before joining the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League for the season of 1935-1936 and tended goal for them for eight seasons. Mike had three brothers who were good hockey players. Two of them, Luke and Tom, were goalies, while the third, John, decided to be a forward.

Frank Brimsek followed Karakas' steps to the NHL and joined the Boston Bruins in the fall of 1938 where he became an instant success. he is considered one the the top goaltenders to have played in the history of the NHL. In 1966 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Sam LoPresti became the third Eveleth goalie to play for a NHL team when he joined the Chicago Blackhawks for the season of 1940-1941. After the season of 1941-1942 he entered the service, which ended his professional career. During the was his ship was torpedoed and LoPresti spent 42 days floating on a raft in the Atlantic Ocean before being rescued. LoPresti hold the NHL record for stops in one game- making 80 stops out of 83 shots. Eveleth's dear of placing three goalies in the NHL in a period of a few short years must be acclaimed a feat when one considers that the six teams in the NHL carried only one goalie, with no spare being available.

Other professional goalies developed during the first fifty years of Eveleth hockey were Frank Cerryance, Tom Karakas, and Oscar Almquist. Ceryance played for many years in the AHL and the USHL, while Almquist played for St. Paul in the AHA and Tom Karakas guarded goal for Minneapolis in the AHA and Portland in the PCHL. Tom Yurkovich, Roy and Willard Ikola played Division 1 college hockey and also were U.S. Olympic goalies. Luke Karakas, Frank De Leo, Bill Nemgar, Tony Nemanick, Al Lo Presti, Art Salpacka, and Eugene Peshel were other Eveleth goaltenders who attained fame playing senior open and/or college hockey.

The Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament, mainly through the efforts of Gene Aldrich of St. Paul, was first held at the St. Paul Auditorium February 15-17th, 1945. The Eveleth Golden Bears emerged as the first state champions by shutting out Granite Falls 16-0, and St. Paul Washington 10-0 in quarter-finals and semi-finals contests. In the finals Eveleth edged a strong Thief River Falls team 4-3. The Golden Bears' line of Finnegan-Grant-Celley amazed the crowd with their pin-point passing and skating abilities. Neil Celley, Pat Finnegan, Wally Grant, and Clem Cossalter were accorded all-tournament honors.

During the next six years, led by such outstanding players as John Mayasich, John Matchefts, Willard Ikola, Ron Castellano, Dan Voce, Dick Peterson, and Ed Mrkonich, Eveleth was to dominate the state tournament by winning he coveted honor in 1948, 49, 50, and 51. In addition the above players who were chosen all-tournament during the forties and early fifties were added to the names of: Andre Gambucci, Ron Martinson, Gene Klune, Bruce Shutte, Bob Kochevar, Ed Ostwald, Dave Rodda, Mike Castellano, and Dave Hendrickson. John Mayasich and John Matchefts are the number one and number two all time leaders in scoring in Minnesota State High School tournament history

During the early 1950's the youth teams upheld the Eveleth tradition by capturing the MAHA second annual Pee Wee tournament in 1952. In the next four years the Eveleth Pee Wees won three state titles. Among the players on these teams were: Bobby Began, Jon Castellano, Jerry Norman, Jerry, Don, and Frank Judnick, Gus Hendrickson, Ron and Don Debelak, Jim Rossi, Gordon Gunderson, John Intihar, Rich Peterlin, Sonny Karakas, Jerry Rosati, Ron Constantine, Jim Palkovich, Joe Jagunich, Jim Curphy, and Jim Drobnick. 

With the abundance of hockey players that Eveleth has produced it would be expected that some of these players would become coaches. Such has happened. Among the well known coaches who have come from Eveleth are Connie Pleban, John Mariucci, John Matchefts, Willard Ikola, Gus Hendrickson, and Oscar Almquist. Pleban, who had played high school and junior college hockey at Eveleth, tutored championship senior teams in Chicago, Eveleth, Eagle River, and Marquette. He coached the 1952 U.S. Olympic team to the silver medal. In addition, he coached the U.S. National teams of 1950, 61, and 62. He also spent several years coaching the Minnesota-Duluth sextet. John Mariucci, often cited as being the "father of hockey in Minnesota", coached the University of Minnesota team from the 1952-53 season through the 1965-66 campaign with a 215-148-18 record. In addition, he coached the 1956 U.S. Olympic team and three U.S. National clubs. John Matchefts, who played college hockey at Michigan and was a member of the 1956 U.S. Olympic team, coached high school hockey at Eveleth, Thief River Falls, and college hockey at Colorado College and the Air Force Academy. Willard Ikola, and All-American goaltender at Michigan and a member of the 1956 U.S. Olympic team, retired as coach at Edina High School after a thirty-four year career with the Edina Hornets. His record at Edina of 616-149-36 and eight state titles is among the very best in the country. Gus Hendrickson played college hockey at Michigan State, helped to build a high school hockey dynasty at Grand Rapids in the early 70's and later coached at Minnesota Duluth for several years. Oscar Almquist, who played high school hockey at Eveleth in the late 1920's and later for St. Marys college and the St. Paul Saints, finished his 28 year High School career at Roseau with a 406-150-21 record. His teams made it to the state tournament fourteen times and won it four times. Other Eveleth natives--from this 50 year era-- who became coaches and high school mentors are listed as follows: Robert, Walter, Arnold, and Roland De Paul, Cliff Kauppi, Dave Hendrickson, Ron Castellano, Al Braga, Bill Langen, Bob Kochevar, David Rogers, Myles Vukson, Dennis and Glen Rolle, Neil Ceeley, Roland Vandell, Bernie Bjork, Patsy De Leo, Ray Gasperlin, Serge Gambucci, Bob Strand, Pat Finnegan, John Mayasich, and Art Salpacka.

The Eveleth Hippodrome, opened in 1922, by the mid thirties it had become dilapidated and was greatly in need of repair. In 1936 the buildings structure west wall was so bad that it was being held up by telephone poles, in 1938 the arena was completely renovated. The original steel beams and trusses were retained, but all else was replaced at a cost of 150,000. Brick replaced the wooden interior walls, A new lobby was constructed on the south side of the building, with new lockers and dressing rooms installed in the basement. Also, new seating to handle a hockey crowd of 3,000 was added. 1950 saw the installment of artificial ice in the arena so as to extend the skating and hockey season. 

Primarily through the efforts of D. Kelley Campbell, the United States Hockey Hall of Fame was opened in Eveleth in 1973. Campbell, a native of Michigan, was  a mining executive with the Ogelby-Norton and Eveleth Taconite Companies. He became interested in hockey while a student at Michigan Tech in Houghton. It can be stated that the United States Hockey Hall of Fame would not exist today without Campbell's vision, persistence, and organizational ability.  He built an institution dedicated to American Hockey and can truly be called "The Father of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame."  Of the individuals who have been inducted into the Hall, twelve of them are Eveleth natives. They are as follows: Sam LoPresti, Frank Brimsek, Mike Karakas, Oscar Almquist, John Mayasich, John Mariucci, John Matchefts, Willard Ikola, Connie Pleban, Wally Grant, Serge Gambucci and Doug Palazzari.