Category Archives: Minnesota

For Neno

Godzilla Manhattan


Norb Robertson

1939-40 Gopher hockey team
The 1939-1940 Golden Gopher hockey team.

The funeral for Norbert Robertson, who was the oldest alum of the University of Minnesota hockey team, was held today. Robertson was a three sport athlete for Minnesota and later St Thomas. He was on the Minnesota team that won the AAU National Championship in 1940. His Minnesota career was cut short by World War II. When Robertson received his draft letter he had one quarter left to graduate. He asked if he could finish his degree, “But Uncle Sam waits for no one,” Robertson said. Within a month, he was in basic training, and eventually assigned to the Air Force.

Mr Robertson, a St Paul native, was 95. RIP.

Photo courtesy of Golden Gopher Hockey


A Little More on Old Mariucci

A Flashback Friday Edition:

As the Gophers face Michigan State at Mariucci Arena tonight, here’s one more view at the Old Barn. Congrats to Nick Lehr on his first collegiate win last night in place of All-American Adam Wilcox. Let’s avoid that first period scare tonight, however.

Scoreboard Wall

Here are two more shots that give a clearer picture of the sloped wall above the goal at one end of the arena.

Sloped ceiling at Mariucci

This is the wall that divides the basketball side from the hockey side of Williams Arena. The sloped ceiling above the goal at this end, is due to the seating on the other side for basketball. As far as I know, it was the only rink in the country with such a quirky feature.

Goldy’s Perch

Goldy's Perch

At the opposite end of the “cubby hole” was a high bank of windows, and right below that is Goldy’s Perch.

Goldy's Perch 2

The Gopher mascot would spend a lot of time up there by the “NE” section, which was the student section. The best part would be seeing Goldy up there on his perch, swinging his broom, while the school band played the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” after a series sweep.

Here’s a video that a Gopher fan took during the final hockey season at Old Mariucci. Notice the “clean” boards. There are very few adverts on the boards, and even center ice is clean with only “Mariucci Arena” imprinted on the ice. What a different era.

A very special thanks goes out to gopherhockeyhistory.com who took the video and photos before the Gophers moved into their new arena. It brought back a lot of good memories. Kudos!


Golden Gopher Hockey Venues

Over the years, the University of Minnesota has played in a lot of venues. The first intercollegiate hockey game the U of M played was in 1895. Those games were played at Athletic Park in Minneapolis. By the 1903 season, the Gophers were playing on Como Lake in St Paul. I believe 1903 is also the first year Minnesota played the University of Wisconsin.
The University’s Board of Regents did not officially fund a varsity hockey program until 1921.

St Paul Hippodrome Exterior
The exterior of the St Paul Hippodrome

By 1923, the University’s hockey team was playing in the Hippodrome at the Minnesota State Fair grounds. When the Hippodrome was built in 1906, it was the largest indoor ice sheet in the world at 270 feet by 119 feet.

The "Hipp"
The Original “Hipp”

The Original “Hipp”, as it was known, was a beautiful and massive amphitheater that sustained the rink by leaving the doors and windows open to let the natural air freeze the ice.

Interestingly, it was also the home of the St Paul Athletic Club, which won the MacNaughton Cup in 1915, and were runner’s up in 1922 and 1923.

Minnesota would continue to play in the Hippodrome off and on until 1934. During WWII, the “Hipp” was converted into a propeller plant. While under government control, the historic Hippodrome was severely damaged and declared unsafe. The building was torn down in 1946.

Mpls Arena
Minneapolis Arena

By 1925, the main home of Gopher hockey was the Minneapolis Arena. The team continued to play some games at the state fair grounds until 1934 and at the St Paul Auditorium from 1932 – 1950.

St._Paul_Auditorium_1945
The St Paul Auditorium in 1945

Things really started to change for the program by 1950. Williams Arena opened on campus in 1928. In 1950, “The Barn”, as the old arena is affectionately known, received its first major renovation. The building was divided with the larger section to be the home of the basketball team, and a smaller section to become the new, on campus home of the hockey team.

The Hockey side of The Barn 1950
The hockey side of The Barn in 1950

In 1952, John Mariucci would become the coach of Golden Gopher hockey. It would be Mariucci who would take the program to new levels and cement the program’s identity. It was Mariucci who really started the tradition of Minnesota kids playing on Minnesota’s ice. He would coach the team through the 1966 season.

Old Mariucci Arena
Old Mariucci

In 1985, the hockey side of Williams Arena was renamed Mariucci Arena after the long time coach. I absolutely loved attending games at Williams Arena/Old Mariucci, both as a young kid with my Dad and as a student at The U. It was a unique rink, a very intimate setting, and very loud for the home team. It also had the strangest little cubby hole at one end. As a kid, I always wondered if the net minder got claustrophobic down there.

In 1993 the hockey team moved into the New Mariucci Arena, which is across the street from Williams. Old Mariucci is now the Sports Pavilion. New Mariucci is a beautiful hockey rink, and arguably one of the nicest in the nation, but I’m glad I experienced the quirks and history of Williams.

Williams_and_Mariucci_Arena_large
“The Barn” and Mariucci Arena … University of Minnesota campus.

Historic photos come courtesy of the wonderful site: vintagemnhockey.com
The subject of this post comes courtesy of Pewaukee. So blame him!


Tingelhoff

Tingelhoff_Mick_

Mick Tingelhoff was finally elected to the NFL Hall of Fame on Saturday. Over 36 years have passed since Tingelhoff last snapped the final football to Fran Tarkenton. Both players retired from the Minnesota Vikings after the 1978 season.

Mick Tingelhoff played linebacker and center for Nebraska and joined the Vikings in 1962 as an undrafted free agent. At Minnesota he became the starting center in his second preseason game and went on to play the next 240 regular season games. In fact, Mick never missed a practice, let alone a game in 17 years. He was named to 6 Pro Bowls and was a five time first team All Pro.

It was overdue:
“Mick is one of the finest centers of all time,” said Packers Hall of Fame linebacker Dave Robinson.

Chicago Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus called Tingelhoff the “toughest center I ever played against.”

“He was a center with a linebacker’s mentality,” former Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant said. “He had the mentality of a defensive player playing on offense. He went out of his way to block people and hustled all the time. He was just a great player and a durable player. He played every week.”

Photo is courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings


Battle for The Axe

Border Battle

It’s the longest running rivalry in Division 1 football: Minnesota vs Wisconsin. This year, not only is Paul Bunyan’s Axe at stake, but a trip to the Big Ten Championship game as well.

The 124th meeting since 1890 takes place today at Camp Randall in Madison.

Beat Wisconsin


Bringing Home the Bacon

Minnesota Raises Floyd

The Golden Gophers completely dominated the Iowa Hawkeyes in a 51-14 win, that allowed Floyd of Rosedale to extend his stay in Minneapolis. 1967 was the last time Minnesota held both the Little Brown Jug & Floyd in their trophy case. 1967 was also the last Big Ten title for Minnesota, and the last year that they had all three traveling trophies: the Jug, Floyd and Paul Bunyan’s Axe, in their possession.

The win over Iowa should help mentally, as the temps plummet across Minnesota in the next few days.

Let’s go Polar Vortex!


The Original “Floyd of Rosedale”

Floyd of Rosedale

It’s Bacon Week on the University of Minnesota campus, as Iowa travels north to face the Golden Gopher football team.

Above: Minnesota Gov. Floyd Olson, Iowa Gov. Clyde Herring and Floyd in 1935.

After a nasty game between Iowa and Minnesota in Minneapolis in 1934, tensions were high in Iowa City the following year as Minnesota traveled south to play the Hawkeyes. Iowa Governor Clyde Herring threatened anarchy from the local fans if the game became as vicious as the previous year’s.
In an effort to ease tensions, Minnesota Governor Floyd Olson challenged Herring to a wager on the game, suggesting a Minnesota prize hog against an Iowa prize hog. The loser would have to deliver the hog to the winner in person.
In an incident-free game, Minnesota would win 13-6. A pig, the brother of Blue Boy of the Will Rogers film “State Fair”, was donated by Rosedale Farms near Fort Dodge, Iowa and promptly named Floyd after the Minnesota governor.
Since trading a live pig back and forth seemed problematic, Governor Olson commissioned a St Paul artist to capture Floyd’s likeness in bronze for the 1936 season, and the two teams have fought for that little, bronze pig ever since.

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society


Little Brown Jug Heads to Minneapolis

Gophers Hoist Jug in Big House

The 111 year old Little Brown Jug traveling trophy was up for grabs in the Big House of Michigan on Saturday. Minnesota vs Michigan is one of the oldest rivalries in college football, with the first meeting between the two programs taking place on Northrup Field in Minneapolis in 1892. The earthenware jug entered the competition in 1903, when Michigan coach Fielding Yost had the team manager buy the 5 gallon crock for 30 cents. Yost didn’t trust the Gopher fans; he thought they may contaminate the Wolverine water supply.
Minnesota tied that 1903 game late in the second half. A thunderstorm hovered above, as Minnesota fans rushed the field. The game was eventually called a 6-6 tie with 2 minutes remaining. Michigan walked off the field, leaving the jug.

Little Brown Jug after capture

A Minnesota custodian, Oscar Munson, recovered the jug from the playing field. The team painted the jug brown, and a traveling trophy was born.

In the past 4 decades, Minnesota had only won the trophy three times. On Saturday, the Golden Gophers dominated all facets of the game. Minnesota running back, David Cobb had more yards rushing on the ground (183), than the entire Michigan offense had as a team (171).

Luckily, through the magic of the internet, I was able to listen to the Minnesota radio broadcast online while I was working. I love the fact that smart phones plug into my jobsite radio. I guess technology isn’t always a bad thing.

2014 Minnesota celebration photo courtesy of Minnesota Golden Gopher football.
Black & white photo courtesy of the Michiganensian … 1909 edition