The Minnesota State High School Boy’s State Hockey Tournament is a special time of year. It’s always fun to watch the games and see who comes out on top on Saturday.
It’s also a busy time for the Carroll Goalie School. We are long-time exhibitors at the Let’s Play Hockey Expo, which is held in conjunction with the state hockey tournament. The sales rep from Brian’s Custom Sports, who sponsors our program, comes to town to show off the latest gear and help goalies with getting sized for Brian’s equipment they are looking for, whether it’s gloves, leg pads or chest protectors.
During this year’s expo, I also had the wonderful opportunity to visit with Mick Hatten from the Rink Live.
We recorded a 30-minute interview live from the Expo. We discussed all kinds of hockey topics including my playing days in Edina, what it was like playing for legendary Coach Willard Ikola, winning the NCAA title at Minnesota State and my work with the goalie school.
It’s was fun to share some stories with Mick and I certainly appreciated the opportunity to be on his show.
Every year at this time, the memories of playing in the Minnesota state high school hockey tournament come flooding back. I had the opportunity to play goalie in the eight-team state hockey tournament during my senior year at Edina-East High School in 1977.
The 33rd annual tournament was played at the St. Paul Civic Center, the historic old arena that featured the clear dasher boards. (Game program cost .75 cents).
The talented tournament field included Rochester John Marshall (22-2), Mounds View (23-1), Hill-Murray (22-2), South St. Paul (18-1-5), Minneapolis Southwest (15-7-2), Edina-East (22-1), Grand Rapids (19-3-1) and Roseau (23-0). The record for all the tournament qualifiers was an impressive 164-17-8.
In the opening round, we played the late game on Thursday night against Neal Broten, his brother Aaron and Busty Erickson from Roseau. The Rams were ranked number one in the state, we were second. We came into the game with only one loss on the season. I remember the ice was soft, the lights were bright and it was hot in the Civic Center.
From what I recall, there was some sort of mix-up before the game which led to both teams wearing their green uniforms for warm-ups. That issue was resolved before the start of the game as we took the ice in our white uniforms. For our game., there was a standing room only crowd of 17,409, which, at that time, was the largest crowd to ever watch a hockey game in Minnesota.
To be honest, a majority of the fans in the building were pulling for the northern Minnesota school, except for a couple of sections in the corner where the Hornet faithful were seated.
I was so excited to be there – achieving a goal I had been dreaming about since I first strapped on the pads as a peewee.
But I was also nervous, playing on such a big stage, in front of a record crowd and with thousands more throughout Minnesota watching the game on WTCN-TV with announcers Joe Boyle and Lou Nanne calling the game. Watch the highlights of this game.
Once the puck dropped, I couldn’t wait to make my first save. After that, I was able to settle down and focus on the task at hand.
It was a back and forth contest with both teams exchanging excellent scoring chances.
Teammate Bret Bjerken broke the scoreless tie a couple minutes into the third period. Another Hornet tally by John Donnelly a few minutes later sealed the 2-0 victory.
That set-up a semifinal showdown against the two-time defending state champions from Grand Rapids. Their team featured a number of future Division I hockey players including former University of Minnesota Head Coach Don Lucia.
This game turned out to be a shootout from the opening face-off. Grand Rapids built up a 4-2 lead in the second period before the Hornets came storming back with four straight goals to take the lead in the third. Grand Rapids added one late but we hung on to win it in electrifying fashion 6-5. Current University of Michigan Head Coach Mel Pearson scored two goals in that game for the Hornets.
With the win, we advanced to the finals to face Rochester John Marshall, a team we did not know a whole lot about. But what we did know was the squad from southern Minnesota could put the puck in the net and had one of the best goalies in the state in sophomore Paul Butters who would go on to play at the University of Minnesota.
Rochester scored on a breakaway 36 seconds into the title game and added another seven minutes later. But we battled back on goals from Dave Terwilliger and Tom Kelly to tie the game at 2-2 after two. But that was a close as we got. JM added two in the third to win it 4-2.
Even though our team lost in the championship game – playing in the state tournament was a wonderful experience and something I’ll never forget.
And if I ever need a trip down memory lane, I can pop in a DVD and watch the games from that memorable weekend in March.
Fourteen players on the 1976-77 Hornets team
would go on to play college hockey.
John Anderson Gustavus Adolphus College
Bret Bjerken Michigan Tech
Steve Carroll Mankato State
John Donnelly Dartmouth
Mark Gagnon Cornell
Paul Gagnon Notre Dame
Gordie Hampson Michigan
Scott Hampson Colorado College
Tom Kelly Colorado College
Mike Lauen Michigan Tech
Mel Pearson Michigan Tech
Steve Pepper Minnesota
Bill Peterson Hamline
Dave Terwilliger Minnesota
We were just finishing up a team meeting following my senior year at Mankato State in 1981, when coach informed me that I had been named as a Top 10 finalist for a new award being given the best player in men’s college hockey.
It was called the Hobey Baker Award, in honor of a standout athlete from Princeton University.
While things went well for me in Mankato, I had a hard time believing the selection committee would consider me, a NCAA Division II goalie, as one of the 10 best players in all of men’s college hockey. It was an unexpected and humbling honor to even be considered for this prestigious award.
When you look at the list of finalists at the bottom of this page, it was clear from the beginning who would be winning the award. And no one couldn’t argue with the choice. Neal Broten was named the winner of the first annual Hobey Baker Award. The Roseau, Minnesota native was a star at the University of Minnesota who already had an Olympic gold medal and a NCAA championship on his impressive hockey resume.
I was invited to attend the award banquet, which was held at the old Decathalon Club in Bloomington. The guest speaker was Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe.
At the banquet, I got to meet Neal Broten. I had played against him when my Edina-East team defeated his team in the quarterfinals of the state high school hockey tournament. We talked about that game for a bit, but not for very long.
It was huge thrill for me to meet Broten, who continued on to have a magnificent NHL career.
Being named a Top 10 finalist for the first-ever Hobey Baker Award means more and more to me with each passing year.
Top 10 finalists for 1981 Hobey Baker Award Pos. — Name — School — Hometown
G – Steve Carroll, Mankato State University, Edina, Minnesota
G – Bill Provencher, Bowdoin College, Lewiston, Maine
G – Rick Strack, Plattsburgh State University, Lake Placid, New York
D – Ed Small, Clarkson College, Ottawa, Ontario
C – Steve Bozek, Northern Michigan University, Castlegar, British Columbia
C – Neal Broten, University of Minnesota, Roseau, Minnesota
C – Mark Hentges, St. Thomas University, New Hope, Minnesota
C – Tom Lawler, Merrimack College, Andover Massachusetts
LW – Sandy Beadle, Northeastern University, Regina Saskatchewan
LW – Steve Ulseth, University of Minnesota, Roseville, Minnesota
By the way, did you know that 1980 Olympian and Richfield, Minn., native Steve Christoff served as the model for the the Hobey Baker Trophy?
This will be a different Winter Olympic Games for me to watch because I personally know some people who will be participating.
First off, there is U.S. goalie Maddie Rooney, who is from Andover, Minnesota. She is one of three goalies on the U.S. squad. I have interviewed her a couple of times in the last few months and even recorded a podcast with her.
Following one of our conservations, Maddie mentioned how she remembered going to the Carroll Goalie School when she was younger. That was cool to hear.
The head coach for Team USA is former University of Minnesota goalie Robb Stauber, who owns a goalie training center in Edina. We are both in the goalie development business and have been on the ice together at the same goalie camp.
Another player I know is Marissa Brandt. She played for the Gustavus Adolphus College women’s hockey team from 2011-2015. That’s the team I am the goalie coach for. Marissa played both forward and defense for the Gusties. She is a member of the Korean Olympic hockey team.
Her sister Hannah is a member of the U.S. Women’s Olympic team. The former Gopher star would often come down to St. Peter watch her sister play and would join her Marissa and their parents at our end of the year banquets.
I also know is Noora Raty, the former University of Minnesota stand-out who is the starting goalie for Finland Olympic team. Raty and I have been on the ice together at the same goalie camp.
Another person I know that’s connected to the Winter Games is goalie coach Rebecca Baker. She used to coach at Bethel University and now is the goalie coach for the Korean Olympic team. Baker and I have been on the ice together at the same goalie camp.
For the first time since 1998, when women’s hockey became an Olympic sport, there’s a goalie from Minnesota on Team USA.
Her name is Maddie Rooney who grew up playing hockey in Andover. She was officially named to the U.S. Olympic team on Jan. 1.
“I’m excited and honored to be on this team and to be playing with this amazing group of women,” Rooney said recently. “I’m really looking forward to this experience.”
At 20 years old, Rooney is the youngest player on the U.S. roster. “I always watched the Olympics growing up and I always had a dream to play on this team,” said Rooney.
Even though she participated in several USA Hockey Development Camps and was on the U.S. National team in 2017, Rooney didn’t think she would have an opportunity to play in the Olympics until after she finished her career at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
“It didn’t really cross my mind that I would have a chance until last winter when I made the winter camp for the Nationals,” Rooney said. “Then I made the World’s roster and everything happened fast.”
And a few short months later, she was one of three goalies selected to represent the U.S. at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. And she can hardly wait.
Her teammates who have competed in previous Winter Games are helping her get a sense of what the experience of playing on the Olympic stage will be all about.
“Having those conversations and hearing all their excitement has really got me excited,” Rooney said.
Team USA plays their first game in the preliminary round of the Olympics on Sunday, Feb. 11 against Finland, after that they take on the Olympic Athletes from Russia, Feb. 13; and Canada Feb. 15. Then it’s on to the quarterfinals, and then perhaps, a much-anticipated medal round showdown with Canada.
“Whenever the U.S. plays Canada you can expect each team to bring their best,” Rooney said. “We bring out the best in each other, everyone plays 100 percent, very physical, intense environment game.”
Rooney started playing hockey when she was five and switched to being a goalie during her second year of squirts after finally convincing her dad to let her put the pads on.
“I begged him for two years,” Rooney recalled with a chuckle. “He would shoot on me out on the driveway in my street hockey goalie pads and he never thought I was good enough to play. We always laugh about that now.”
After making the switch to full-time goalie, Rooney played boys hockey through bantams. She then joined the Andover High School girls’ team for two seasons where she led her team to its first state tournament appearance. Rooney decided to finish her prep career with the Huskies boys’ team.
“I made the decision after I already committed to Duluth,” Rooney said. “Just wanted the ultimate challenge and I knew guys high school hockey would give me that.”
And it was also one last chance to be on a team with the guys she played with during his youth hockey days.
“It was basically the same team,” she said. “So that was really cool. I was pretty close with all those guys, they challenged my to be better every day, and I thought I really developed that year.”
And she continues to improve her game by working hard every day in practice to become a better goaltender.
“I like how you are in on every play, the competiveness of it,” she said. “I also like how you can steal a game. I like having that pressure on me. I feel like it’s a good motivator to have.”
And you know Rooney will be ready to go when the puck drops at the Olympic Games.
NOTE: Maddie told me after a recent conversation how she remembered going to the Carroll Goalie School in her early days as a goaltender.
Just posted my latest episode of Ice Insights, a podcast I have been recording periodically for the past couple of years. During the podcasts, I talk about goaltending and other hockey topics with people involved in all aspects of the game.
This episode, I visit with goaltender Hunter Miska, a Stacy, Minnesota native who is in his first year of professional hockey. Hunter was the recipient of the 2015-16 USA Hockey Dave Peterson Goalie of the Year Award, which is presented annually to a top U.S. goaltender at the international, professional, collegiate or junior level.
After five years of Jr. hockey, Hunter played one season at the University of Minnesota Duluth where he led the Bulldogs to the 2017 NCAA National Championship game, where they lost a 3-2 heartbreaker to Denver.
Hunter discusss how his game has changed since turning pro and what it was like when he got called up the the NHL earlier this season. He also talks about his dad who is well-known for designing and painting goalie helmets.
During the winter, I am the goalie coach for the nationally-ranked Gustavus Adolphus College women’s hockey team. We have four goalies on our roster this year including one who earned All-American honors last season.
Recently, we faced-off UW-River Falls, another top 10 ranked team, in a non-conference series in what’s developed into a highly competitive rivalry. They beat us twice last season, before we upset the them in the national tournament to advance to the NCAA Frozen Four.
In the first game of the series in December, River Falls outplayed us, and outshot us 33-16, but our All-American netminder played well and we escaped with a 4-3 victory.
Before the rematch, I suggested to our head coach (my older brother) that we mix it up when it came to our goalie situation. I thought we should look at game two as an excellent development opportunity for all the goalies on our team.
So I outlined a plan to rest our All-American and play our other three goalies one period a piece. He agreed with the idea. At their home rink in the second game of the series, our junior started the game and played the first period, our first-year goalie made her collegiate debut in the second, and our lone sophomore came in to play in the third.
It turned out to be one of our best games so far this year. Even though we were outshot 27-23, our trio of goalies played well and led us to a thrilling 2-1 win.
All three goalies were very excited about being able to play and help us beat the Falcons. It also gave them valuable game experience as we head into the second half of the season looking to build on our 8-1-1 record.
The 2017-18 U.S. Women’s National Team has only been together for a few months, but Maddie Rooney, a goalie from Andover, Minnesota, has quickly established herself as the top U.S. netminder.
So far, in six games during the team’s “Time is Now Tour” and Four Nations Cup, Rooney is unbeaten at 4-0, with a goals against average of 1.75.
Rooney is one of six Minnesotans on the team, and at age 20, is the youngest player on the roster. They’re preparing for 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea in February.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Rooney said. “It’s going to be an awesome experience, really humbled by the opportunity.”
And she is also looking forward to coming home Sunday, Dec. 3, as the U.S. team faces off against Canada in an exhibition game at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Rooney participated in several USA Hockey Development Camps during her high school and collegiate career.
She made the U.S. National Team that won the Gold Medal in the 2017 Women’s World Championship in Michigan. In her first start in goal for Team USA, Rooney earned a 14-save shutout in a 7-0 win over Russia.
“I was so nervous going to into the game,” she recalled. “But after you get first the shot you’re fine. It was really cool to play with them, it was a great experience.”
A few days later, Rooney and the Americans celebrated the World Championship with a thrilling 3-2 overtime win against Canada.
“I wasn’t suited up for the game,” Rooney recalled, “but when Hillary Knight scored, I sprinted out on the ice and fell about five times. I’ll never forget it.”
And something else she won’t soon forget is when she found out in May that she was one of three goalies named to the U.S. team that’s preparing for the Olympic Games. “I was told and was really overjoyed,” she said. “I called my parents right after, it was great.”
Rooney began playing hockey when she was five years old. She started out as a forward but eventually switched to goalie during her second year of squirts.
“I was into it but not that into it,” she admitted, “but then I went to goalie and just loved it.”
As she moved into peewees, her parents bought her a set of leg pads. “I had these gold pads since I played for Andover,” Rooney said. “I thought they were the coolest things ever and I remember when I first got those, I kept them by my bed all night.”
Rooney played peewees and bantams for Andover before joining the girls high school team. As a junior, she led the Huskies to their first appearance in the Class “AA” State High School Tournament. They lost to Eden Prairie in the quarterfinals, but rallied to beat Burnsville and Mound View to earn the consolation title. Rooney was named to the All-Tournament Team.
While girls hockey was enjoyable for her, Rooney switched to the boys team as a senior. “I liked the challenge, I liked the quick pace,” she said. “I basically played with the same guys team that I did growing up, so it was just a lot of fun.”
The Andover boys team fell to Duluth East in the section playoffs.
Following her brilliant prep career, Rooney had a number of college hockey scholarship offers and chose the University of Minnesota Duluth.
“I just think it’s a really good atmosphere,” said Rooney. “Fans are great, got a really nice facilities, staff is great and the people I have met there are awesome.”
Rooney has played two years for the Bulldogs and will have two years of eligibility remaining after the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
NOTE: Maddie attended the Carroll Goalie School in her early days as a goalie.