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'61-62 Huskies a MacInnes favorite/Paul Peterson

October 10, 2012
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

John MacInnes seldom singled out an individual or a team during his long regime at Michigan Tech.

But the late Tech hockey coaching legend had a genuine affection for his 1961-62 team.

Maybe it was because that particular team was his first NCAA national champion - one of three he coached to the pinnacle of college hockey - in Houghton.

But I suspect that he just enjoyed coaching that group of players.

Lou Angotti, who gained All-American honors as a defenseman on the 1961-62 team, once told me that MacInnes was more like a father than a coach.

"John had a real regard for his players. He made sure that we got to our classes and behaved in an appropriate manner at all times," Angotti said. "He believed we were ambassadors of the university, and should be aware of that when we were out and about in the community."

The 1961-62 team will be inducted into the Tech Sports Hall of Fame this coming weekend at ceremonies. It's the first time an entire team has entered the hall.

That particular group was a special one. They lost just three games the entire season, won the Western Collegiate Hockey Association title and breezed to the NCAA championship. The two games they won in the NCAA finals held in Utica, N.Y., came by scores of 6-1 and 7-1 over Clarkson and St. Lawrence as goaltender Gary Bauman stood out.

Players like Bauman, Jerry Sullivan, Henry Akervall, George Hill and Elov Seger would also gain All-American honors in their careers. Angotti forged a solid career in the National Hockey League.

You have to remember that an archaic Dee Stadium was Michigan Tech's home arena back in those days. Dee, which had undergone quite a few renovations over the years, was nothing like it is today.

There was chicken wire strung around the sideboards to ostensibly keep the puck from flying into the crowd. More than a few pucks got through, believe me.

The first Tech hockey game I ever saw was an early January 1961 showdown against then No. 1-ranked Denver.

It was a frosty minus-42 degrees outside that night (probably about 30 below inside), but the crowd likely didn't even notice.

Most people who attended games at Dee back in those days made sure they brought a flask of refreshments with them. No one was going to question the presence of alcohol, especially on those bitterly cold nights.

The official seating at the Dee was listed at 1,500. But I would estimate there was at least 2,000 people there most of the time. The fire marshal - if there was such a thing in 1962 - conveniently looked the other way. He was probably seated in Section Z, one of the favored corner spots at the historic venue.

There was no radio (that would not come until the late 1960s) or TV coverage of Tech hockey, either. You either attended the game or read about it in the newspaper the following day.

Sullivan, who would have a nice career coaching hockey at Marquette Senior High School, said that MacInnes was a players' coach.

"You always knew who was the boss with John," he noted. "But he backed all of his players 100 percent. He treated us like we were his children."

I'm sure that John MacInnes will be nodding in approval from above when his 1961-62 team is inducted Saturday night at the arena named in his honor.

 
 

 

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