HOUGHTON - Bill Steele already etched his name into Michigan Tech history by scoring some of the Huskies' most iconic goals, but over the weekend he was assured his legacy will live on forever as a member of Tech's Sports Hall of Fame.
Steele, who played from 1971-75, scored the final Husky goal at Dee Stadium on Dec. 4, 1971, the overtime game-winner in the 1974 national semifinal win over Harvard and the opening goal of the 1975 national championship game over Minnesota - Tech's last national championship win in any sport.
"I would have liked to see us do it two years in a row because we had a great crew in '74 with Mike Usitalo, Jim Nahrgang, some of these guys," Steele said. "We were really close, we were a very talented team. I think that was one of the impetuses where we said this is not going to slip away from us in '75."
HANCOCK — Hancock battled back from a two-set deficit to force and win a fifth set Tuesday, taking a 3-2 (20-25, 19-25, 25-22, 26-24, 15-13) decision from Lake Linden-Hubbell.
Besides the razor-thin margin of set five, set four was tied 14 times, including at 20, 21, 22, 23 and 24 points before the Bulldogs pulled it out.
Amanda Manninen led the Bulldogs with 10 kills, while Katelyn Anderson added nine kills, 20 digs and four aces and Taylor Mattson had eight kills.
Jen Hannon led Hancock both defensively, with a team-best 26 digs, and at the service line, where she served six aces. Nicole Anderson recorded 37 assists.
For the Lakes, Brittni Kisul led all hitters with 14 kills and five blocks. Ciara Larson added eight and Sarah Audette seven. Kisul also led LL-H in digs with 24 as Audette pitched in 13, Larson and Morgan Codere 11.
LL-H is at Calumet Thursday, while Hancock travels to Houghton the same night.
Ewen-Trout Creek 2
EWEN — Baraga pulled out the Mountain Lakes Conference victory by the narrowest of margins Tuesday.
Despite the defeat, Zoey McGeshick put up 13 kills, seven aces and 18 digs for the Panthers, while Brittany Suomumaki posted six kills, 18 digs and five aces.
Rebekkah Driesenga and Molly Niemi recorded 26 digs apiece, while Sam Robl kicked in 22 digs and four aces.
Bill Steele, who played on Michigan Tech’s last national championship team in 1975, poses with his Sports Hall of Fame induction plaque at Friday’s induction ceremony. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
Steele, assistant captain and all-WCHA Honorable Mention his senior year, finished his career on top, but his fondest memory is still getting introduced to Tech by John MacInnes, the legendary coach, who, along with former assistant coach Dan Farrell, recruited the Toronto native.
"I really had a passion, I wanted to get to the NHL as a young boy. John and his coaches had put more people in the NHL than any other college group," Steele recalls.
He never quite made the NHL, but his 65 career goals and 86 career assists in 145 career games put him fourth on Tech's all-time scoring list and were enough to earn him a couple years in the World Hockey Association with the Cincinnati Stingers, playing against players like Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull.
"I'm pretty diminutive, I'm 5-foot-6, they said, 'Billy don't get upset if you don't make it.' I expected to make it. I didn't last long, but hey, I made it," said Steele, who vividly recalls a one-on-one encounter with Howe prior to a game. "Dreams come true, and you'd be amazed how much that does to build your character, allow you hopefully to be successful in other parts of your life."
After his WHA career, Steele returned to the Copper Country for 25 years, including 15 years for Detroit & Northern Bank. He also worked as director of athletic development for Tech from 2001-05, and he is credited with creating the VIP tailgate parties at Tech home football games.
His career also took him to the human resources department at Medtronic, the world's largest cardiovascular company, and now he works in human resources for a bank in Chicago.
"It's funny because I've been with the bank for four years and all the young kids that are managers call me coach," Steele said.
His degree from Tech was in business administration with an emphasis in labor law and economics, and, while he joked that he didn't get into the academic hall of fame, he "really enjoyed" labor law and economics and turned that into a successful career in human resources.
As a proud Tech hockey alum, Steele has been just as frustrated as many Huskies hockey fans with the lack of success since the championship in his senior year, but he's excited about possibility of a resurgence under current Tech coach Mel Pearson.
"It was tough to see them struggle. I think everyone that came came with the greatest objectives to do a great job for Tech," Steele said.
"I know Mel a little bit. He came in the first year I graduated, so we got to know each other summer times and things like that.
"What a great young man I thought he was back then, I watched him at Michigan and I honestly do see a little poise like John MacInnes in Mel Pearson. I think we'll do well with his guidance."
Now nearing retirement, Steele plans to return to the Copper Country, where he first made a name for himself.
"I said when I was inducted into the hall of fame, I'm humbled to be back, and the truth of the matter is I'm humbled to be home. It's always felt like home to me even though I grew up in Toronto. I'm almost a Yooper. When I retire here, I'll be a Yooper."
But he'll always be a Husky.