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The 'Godfather' Gets His Due

During his life, John Mariucci was an icon who raised hockey to great heights both in his home state of Minnesota and around the United States. More than 30 years after his passing, the "godfather of Minnesota hockey" has been immortalized in metals as sturdy as his reputation as a player and coach.

With friends, family and Iron Range hockey royalty looking on, a six-foot, 500-pound statue of Mariucci was unveiled during a July 3 ceremony in his hometown of Eveleth, Minn.

Among those in attendance were local Olympians John Mayasich, Willard Ikola and Buzz Schneider.

"As far as the hockey goes and his impact, everybody knows who he was," said U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Museum President Calvin Cossalter. "They know how he promoted American hockey and primarily Minnesota hockey and fought for that."

Mariucci earned a reputation as a rugged defenseman with the Chicago Blackhawks at a time when few American players found a spot on an NHL roster.

When his playing career ended, Mariucci returned to his alma mater to lead the University of Minnesota to two NCAA runner-up finishes, six conference championships and a WCHA Tournament title in 13 seasons. A champion of the American player, Mariucci refused to recruit Canadians to wear the maroon and gold.

He would also coach the 1956 U.S. Olympic Team to a silver medal, and served as the assistant general manager to the Minnesota North Stars. He was inducted into the inaugural class of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973 and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 1985.

"John was so great to all of us," Mayasich told the local paper. "Not only the hockey fraternity, but to everybody in town. He represented us well. ... It wasn't only his playing and coaching, it's what he meant for the game of hockey."

Issue: 
2018-09

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