Thursday, March 27, 2014

1986-87 University of North Dakota Tony Hrkac Jersey

On this date in 1987, the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux, led by 1987 Hobey Baker winner and national scoring champion Tony Hrkac and future NHL All-Star Ed Belfour, captured the NCAA championship at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan by defeating the Michigan State Spartans by a score of 5-3.

1987 Sioux trophy photo 1987Siouxtrophy.jpg
North Dakota celebrates their 1987 national championship

The NCAA tournament began with eight teams meeting in the quarterfinals, which were still a two-game, total-goals format.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers, second in the WCHA defeated the Boston College Eagles, the champions of Hockey East, 4-1 in the first game. While the Eagles would win the second game 3-2, Minnesota's three goal advantage from Game 1 stood up to take the series 6-4.

The Michigan State Spartans, second in the CCHA regular season and winners of their conference tournament, easily dispatched the Maine Black Bears 11-5 to advance to face Minnesota in the Final Four in Detroit, 90 miles from the Spartans' campus.

In the other half of the bracket, WCHA champions North Dakota took two from the St. Lawrence Saints, third in the ECAC, to win 9-4.

In the final pairing, the Harvard Crimson, champions of the ECAC, destroyed the CCHA champion Bowling Green Falcons in Game 1 by a score of 7-1, taking an insurmountable six goal lead into Game 2, which they easily won 3-0 for a final tally of 10-1.

Michigan State survived their semifinal game in Detroit against Minnesota 5-3, aided in part by a fluke goal when the puck caromed off the seam in the Zamboni doors behind the Minnesota goal, leaving Minnesota goaltender John Blue miles out of his crease waiting for the ring-around while the puck deflected into the slot for an easy shot into the unguarded net for the Spartans.

North Dakota advanced to the final with a stout 5-2 win over Harvard.

In the championship final, North Dakota prevailed by a score of 5-3 over the partisan Michigan State crowd which numbered an NCAA record 17,644 fans in attendance. Ian Kidd opened the scoring for North Dakota in the first period with a backhander before defenseman Murray Baron added another 1:37 later to make it 2-0 for the Fighting Sioux. Just 18 seconds later Bob Joyce scored from Hrkac and Kidd, North Dakota's third goal in the span of just 1:55.

Belfour Sioux photo BelfourSioux-1.jpg
Ed Belfour guards the Fighting Sioux goal

Michigan State got a goal back in the second period, which North Dakota soon countered to restore the three goal cushion before future NHLer Kevin Miller scored for the Spartans to make it 4-2 after two periods.

Each team would add a goal in the third for the final score of 5-3 as the Gino Gasparini coached team earned their fifth national championship and set a record with their 40th win of the season to finish the season at 40-8.

University of North Dakota 1987 National Champions
The 1987 NCAA champion North Dakota Fighting Sioux

Hrkac led the tournament in scoring with 3 goals and a record 9 assists for 12 points and was named to the All-Tourament team along with teammates Belfour, defnseman Kidd and linemate Joyce.

Hrkac also led the nation in scoring that season with 116 points in 48 games, far outdistancing his nearest competitor by 24 points to set an NCAA record, while Joyce and Hrkac finished 1-2 in goals with 52 and 46. Hrkac's outstanding season was recognized with the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top player in American college hockey also on this date in 1987.

Hrkac Hobey Baker photo TonyHrkac1987.jpg
Tony Hrkac posing with the Hobey Baker Award

After playing two seasons at North Dakota, Hrkac would immediately enter the NHL with the St. Louis Blues. In addition to the Blues, he would also play with the Quebec Nordiques, San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, which included winning a Stanley Cup in 1999, a brief stint with the New York Islanders, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and the Atlanta Thrashers. Periodically, Hrkac would spend time in both the AHL and the IHL, including a standout season in 1992-93 with the Indianapolis Ice, where he would win the league scoring title with 132 points and be named the league MVP. In 2004, he would help the Milwaukee Admirals capture the Calder Cup in the AHL playoffs.

Joyce saw action in the NHL with the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets as well as several years in the IHL before finishing his career with three seasons in Germany.

Freshman defenseman Baron would have the most successful NHL career among the skaters, playing 988 games with the Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens, Phoenix Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks, but easily the most recognizable name off the 1986-87 Fighting Sioux roster would be goaltender Belfour.

Ed Belfour Fighting Sioux

After playing a single season with North Dakota, Belfour would break into the NHL in a big way in 1990-91, winning the Calder Trophy, the Jennings Trophy and the Vezina Trophy with the Chicago Blackhawks while posting a record of 43-19-7. The next season he would lead the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 19 years. He would also repeat capturing both the Jennings and Vezina trophies in 1992-93. During his nine seasons in Chicago, Belfour would establish himself as one of the elite goalies in the NHL.

After a brief stay in San Jose, Belfour would join the Dallas Stars, backstopping the team to the Stanley Cup in 1999, while winning another Jennings Trophy, and a return to the finals in 2000. He would close out his 19 year NHL career with three seasons in Toronto with the Maple Leafs and a season with the Florida Panthers.

Today's featured jerseys is a 1986-87 University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux Tony Hrkac jersey. This classic Fighting Sioux jersey is clearly derived from the traditional Chicago Blackhawks jersey, only with the Blackhawks red replaced by the green of the Fighting Sioux and with the "C" in the crossed tomahawks secondary logo replaced by an "S".

A much beloved style among Fighting Sioux fans, this style was first used in 1978 and lasted through 1993 when political correctness resulted in a "North Dakota word mark" style for a couple of seasons until stylized "geometric" Indian head was employed. While today's featured style came into being in 1984, the use of the "Blackhawks" crest dates back to 1971.

For the most complete history of North Dakota jerseys online, we highly recommend Sioux-Jersey.com.

North Dakota Sioux 1986-87 jersey, North Dakota Sioux 1986-87 jersey
North Dakota Sioux 1986-87 jersey, North Dakota Sioux 1986-87 jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1986-87 University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux Ed Belfour jersey as worn by Belfour in his NCAA national championship season. No names were used on the back of the North Dakota road jerseys at that time and Belfour wore #29 in college rather than the more familiar #30 he would later wear in the NHL.

For more on the issue surrounding the discontinuation of the "Fighting Sioux" name, please read our post here.

North Dakota Sioux 1986-87 R jersey photo NorthDakotaSioux1986-87RF.jpg
North Dakota Sioux 1986-87 R jersey photo NorthDakotaSioux1986-87RB.jpg

Here is a great find, highlights of both the semi-final game against Harvard followed by the title winning game against Michigan State.



Here is a music video tribute to the 1987 North Dakota Fighting Sioux, featuring perhaps the worst performance of the most annoying song ever written, but the rare footage of the team in action is worth the audio punishment. No points will be deducted for watching with the sound off.



Finally, a look back at the career of Hrkac on the occasion of his induction into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

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