Feb. 11, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS (Gophersports.com) – The University of Minnesota and Gopher Hockey will salute the legendary John Mayasich during Friday’s Big Ten Conference matchup with Michigan at Mariucci Arena.
The salute to Mayasich is part of Minnesota's Olympic celebration, honoring the university's long-standing history at the Winter Games including six Gopher Hockey alums in Sochi this year (the University of Minnesota has a total of 14 representatives at this year's competition). Mayasich's eight U.S. national team appearances are a U.S. record while the forward earned an Olympic silver medal in 1956 and a gold medal in 1960.
The U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer and Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer will participate in a brief pre-game program on the ice prior to the 8:04 p.m. CT game and will drop a ceremonial puck to kick off the series between the nationally ranked Gophers and Wolverines.
The Minnesota/Michigan series opener will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network and streamed on BTN2Go.com. Radio broadcast for the game will be on the Gopher Radio Network and 1500 ESPN.
No player in amateur hockey history dominated at every level quite like Minnesota’s John Mayasich.
As a prep athlete, Mayasich never lost a high school game and led Eveleth to four-straight high school state championships from 1948-51.
As a Gopher, Mayasich was a three-time All-American who still stands as the program’s all-time leading scorer and is the only Gopher to have his jersey (No. 8) retired.
As an international competitor, Mayasich’s eight national team appearances are the most in U.S. history and include an Olympic silver medal in 1956 followed by a gold medal in 1960.
On top of all that, he’s also credited as the inventor of the slapshot.
“The words to describe the boy haven’t been invented,” fellow Gopher legend John Mariucci once said of Mayasich. “When I say he’s the best, that’s totally inadequate.”
By the time he arrived at the ‘U’, Mayasich’s hockey talents were already widely known. The legend only grew during his time on campus.
The Eveleth, Minn., native was Minnesota’s leading scorer in each of his four years with the program and totaled a Gophers’ record of 298 points in 111 career games – an unbelievable average of 2.68 points per game. Mayasich also holds the Minnesota record for career goals with 144 while his 154 career assists were the most in program history until Larry Olimb tallied 159 from 1988-92.
The Iron Ranger is also in the Minnesota record books for most goals and most points in a single game. As a senior captain, Mayasich scored an amazing six goals against Winnipeg on Dec. 10, 1954 in a 14-1 Minnesota victory and tallied eight points against Michigan that same season on Jan. 14, 1955 in a 10-4 Gophers’ win.
Mayasich earned All-America honors three times during his career at the University of Minnesota, picking up Second Team honors as a freshman in 1952 and again as a senior in 1955 as well as First Team accolades in 1953 as he led the Gophers to the first of back-to-back trips to the NCAA national championship game.
Following his collegiate career, Mayasich competed for the U.S. with two Olympic teams as well as several national squads. In 1956, he joined fellow Gophers Wendell Anderson, Gene Campbell, Dick Dougherty, Dick Meredith, Jack Petroske and Mariucci in traveling to the Winter Olympic Games in Italy and surprised the world by taking a silver medal. Against Canada, which had won seven of the eight gold medals up to that point, Mayasich tallied a hat trick in an unbelievable 4-1 U.S. victory.
He was also one of three Gophers on the United States Olympic “Team of Destiny” in 1960 along with Meredith and goaltender Jack McCartan. While Canada, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Sweden were the top four teams heading into the Olympics, the U.S. squad topped all four countries in route to its first Olympic gold medal. The Squaw Valley, Calif., Games saw the Americans win all seven of their games, including the first time an Olympic hockey team had beaten the mighty Russians.
To cap off his many accolades, Mayasich was inducted in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976 with the University of Minnesota retiring his No. 8 jersey on Nov. 15, 1998.
Mayasich brought about the dawn of modern Minnesota hockey. As his coach, John Mariucci, once said, “John brought college hockey to a new plateau. He was the Wayne Gretzky of his time.”
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