Tuesday, March 24, 2015

1953-54 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers John Mayasich Jersey

Born in tiny Eveleth, Minnesota, John Mayasich was a multi-sport athlete in high school, but excelled at hockey like no other. He led the Eveleth Golden Bears to four consecutive Minnesota State High School Championships from 1948 to 1951, setting numerous State Tournament Records, including Most Consecutive Games Scoring a Goal with 12, Most Hat Tricks with 7, Most Total Career Goals with 3, Most Total Career Points with 46, Most Goals in a Game with 7, Most Points in a Game with 8, Most Goals in a Period with 4, Most Goals in a Tournament with 15 and Most Points in a Tournament with 18 all of which still stand 64 years later!

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Mayasich permanently rewrote the Minnesota record books
photo courtesy of VintageMinnesotaHockey.com

Following his four year undefeated high school career, the prolific Mayasich joined the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers for the 1951-52 season, where he proceeded to lead the Gophers in scoring his freshman year with 32 goals and 62 points in just 26 games.

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Mayasich arrived at the University of Minnesota in 1951

He set a personal best with 42 goals in just 27 games on his way to 78 points in 1952-53 and matched his 78 points in 1953-54 with 29 goals and a personal best 49 assists from 28 games played to win the WCHA scoring title. Finally, as a senior, Mayasich scored another 41 goals and 39 assists for a career best 80 points in 1954-55 as he won a second WCHA scoring race.

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Mayasich won the WCHA scoring title in 1954

By the time he left the Gophers, Mayasich had established records for Most Career Goals with 144, which still stands today and is 24 more than second place, Most Career Assists with 154, which stood for 37 years, and Most Career Points with 298 in just 111 career games, which also still stands today and is 29 more than second place set by a player who played 50 more career games thanks to the longer schedules of the 1980's.

In 1998, Mayasich became the only player to ever have his number retired by the University of Minnesota when they raised his #8 to the roof of Mariucci Arena, which is named after the man who coached him while he was at Minnesota, John Mariucci.

While he had offers to turn professional following his college career, Mayasich instead had two years of military obligations due to being in the ROTC program at Minnesota. That, combined with having a young family with three kids, led to him accepting a job with Hubbard Broadcasting in St. Paul.

Mayasich was not done with hockey though, and was chosen to represent his country during the 1956 Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. There, the United States finished second in Group B to advance to the Final Round, where they defeated Germany 7-2 and then Canada 4-1 with Mayasich scoring a hat trick against the team that had won seven of eight gold medals. They continued by beating Sweden 6-1, then lost to the Soviet Union 4-0 before avenging a 4-3 Group B loss to Czechoslovakia by defeating them soundly 9-4 to capture the silver medal, the first in United States Olympic history. Mayasich led the US in scoring with 6 goals and 10 points in 7 games to place seventh overall in tournament scoring.

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The silver medal winning 1956 United States Olympic Team

Mayasich remained with the US National Team in 1956-57, but in protesting a Soviet occupation of Hungary, The US boycotted that year's World Championships. For 1957-58, he joined the St. Paul KSTP team in the U.S. Central Hockey League as a player/coach. It was back to the US National Team for 1957-58, where he came second in team scoring by just 3 points with 25 goals and 52 points in only 33 of the team's 52 games, this while playing defense!

In 1958-59, Mayasich began a relationship with the senior hockey club, the Green Bay Bobcats, which would last 13 seasons, which included eight as a player/coach.

Mayasich was back to duty with the United States in 1960, this time with the Olympic Team in Squaw Valley, California. At the Games, the Americans won Group C with a pair of wins over Czechoslovakia (7-5) and Australia (12-1) before moving on to the Medal Round. They opened play with a 6-3 win over Sweden, downed Germany 9-1, squeaked by Canada 2-1, scored a vital 3-2 win over the Soviet Union and capped off an undefeated run to the gold medal with a 9-4 domination of the Czechs to win the first Olympic gold medal in US hockey history.

Mayasich once again played a vital role for the United States, scoring 7 goals and 12 points to finish one point back of Bill Christian's 13.

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Mayasich won Olympic gold in 1960

After spending the 1960-61 season as an independent club, the Bobcats joined the United States Hockey League, a semi-pro senior level league, the next iteration of the USCHL.

During the 1961-62 season, Mayasich won a bronze medal as a member of the United States National Team at the World Championships held in Denver, Colorado, where he was named the Best Defenseman of the tournament. It would be the last medal the US would win at the World Championships for 34 years.

The Bobcats won the second USHL championship in 1963, with Mayasich as the team's leading defenseman with 42 points.

After three more seasons with the Bobcats as a player/coach, leading the team to a 92-25-3 record, Mayasich would make his final appearance for the US National Team in 1966.

He would spend five more seasons with the Bobcats as only a player until once more taking over as coach during the middle of the 1970-71 season, his last as a player before retiring.

Mayasich was named as an NCAA First Team All-American in both 1953 and 1954, the Best Defenseman at the 1962 World Championships, won an Olympic silver medal in 1956, an Olympic gold medal in 1960 and was named to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976 and IIHF Hall of Fame in 1997 and was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy on this date in 1998 in honor of his contribution to hockey in the United States. He is considered the finest amateur player in United States hockey history.

When asked to describe Mayasich, his college coach Mariucci stated, "The words to describe the boy haven't been invented. When I say he's the best, that's totally inadequate."

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Minnesota head coach Mariucci with Mayasich

Today's featured jersey is a 1953-54 University of Minnesota John Mayasich jersey as worn the year Mayasich won his first of two WCHA scoring titles.

This jersey was worn for only one season by the Gophers and was revived for the 2014 Hockey City Classic outdoor game by the University of Minnesota, who defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 1-0.

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Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1950-51 Eveleth Golden Bears John Mayasich jersey as worn by Mayasich as he completed a record setting high school career with Eveleth's fourth consecutive undefeated season and fourth state championship. 

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jersey photos courtesy of VintageMinnesotaHockey.com

To order your own Mayasich 1952-53 or 1953-54 Minnesota Gophers or Eveleth Golden Bears jersey, please visit our friends at VintageMinnesotaHockey.com.

Here is a recent interview with Mayasich, recalling his days with the Gophers and growing up in Eveleth.

Finally, the United States defeats the Soviet Union at the 1960 Olympics on the way to a gold medal. Look for Mayasich wearing #4.

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