With 155 state championships, Edina clearly knows how to win. This year's state boys hockey tournament showed that the Hornets also know how to lose -- with grace and good sportsmanship.
On the way to the tournament, fans on the many local Facebook groups I follow talked about a "three peat" as the Edina boys made it to the state tourney for the ninth year in a row with back-to-back championships in 2013 and 2014. The Edina supporters talked big -- and who could blame them? Most sportswriters also predicted Edina as the tournament favorite, which predictably made them the least favorite among hockey fans outside of our community.
When Edina fell to underdog Duluth East, others gloated while Hornet fans stood behind their team -- and their opponents. The diehard Edina supporters showed nothing but respect for Duluth East. Here's a sampling of comments from the Facebook page "You know you're from Edina when...":
Edina has a proud tradition of handling defeat well. Following its 1970 loss in the state championships to Southwest, Minneapolis Tribune columnist Jim Klobuchar noted Edina's ability to deal with disappointment as well as success:
"(*I)t took Olympic restraint and an unshakeable belief in their peewee futures to smile bravely on 50th Street.
Invariably, you expect Edina to strike the right tone philosophically. Its civic character has been tempered in the swirling vats of prosperity. It has developed a spirit of togetherness, the gift of shared struggles beneath the burdens of success.
"But there does have to be a breaking point, and I would have thought that somewhere in the Edina gymnasium yesterday somebody would have crossed the line separating the Proud-and-Indomitable from the Sore-and-Disagreeable.
"But NOBODY DID. I tell no untruths to say Edina rarely harvests many of the uncommitted votes around the state. .... In the face of this general state of unlove, the villagers have responded with their traditional resort to Earnestness, Reasonableness and another league in the peewee program."
Perhaps these Edina grads show a classy response to an upset because of good role models from Edina Schools when they were growing up.
In 1970, Edina High School Principal Rollie Ring even attended victory celebrations at Southwest HIgh School, which came out on top of the championship game against the Hornets. "If we have to be No. 2, better that it should be Southwest, our neighbor, that is No. 1," he said.
Athletic Director Howard Merriman struck the same tone: "I won't say were defeated. I will say we lost. We were a great team beaten by a great team."
Those words from 45 years ago were echoed this year. Win or lose, Edina is still a great team. As Klobuchar wrote back in 1970, Edina is "still a place for happy ever-aftering."
The Washington Post called it "perhaps the most famous campaign jingle of all time."
Marketing researcher Peter G. Peterson created the "I Like Ike" slogan when he found out more people wanted to talk about how much they liked presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower, rather than describing their views on the issues.
Walt Disney even created a song with the slogan, and it's widely credited with helping elect Dwight D. Eisenhower to two terms in office.
From the Edina Historical Society collection.
I know less about this "I Like Ike" button recently donated to our collection.I know it features long-time Hornet hockey coach Willard Ikola, featured in a baseball style cap instead of his trademark houndstooth hat.
I don't know who made the button or why, but there were many reasons to like Edina's Ike.
Here's what the Edina Athletic Booster Club web site says about Ikola:
Edina's legendary hockey coach exceeded his on-ice accomplishments with the 1956 U.S. Olympic team in 33 years behind the bench.
Ike, as he was known to all, posted a 616-149-38 record, winning eight state hockey titles and taking his team to the state tournament on 19 occassions. He also put 22 Lake Conference titles in the Hornet's trophy case.
Famous for his trademark hounds-tooth hat, Ikola was modest when speaking of his coaching record. "I never scored a goal or prevented one either," he said. "All the credit for our success belongs to the kids."
Meanwhile, Ike worked quietly during practices, developing a forechecking system that became a model not only for high school teams, but for college and professional teams, as well.
"Coach Ikola truly established the tradition in Edina hockey," said former Hornet captain Bruce Carlson, who nominated Ike for the Edina High Hall of Fame.
In the early years of Lake Conference hockey, Ikola established tradition on an outdoor rink. His practices were demanding, but he demanded more of himself than anyone else. When it snowed, he was the first to grab a shovel and start clearing the rink for practice.
For his efforts, Ike was named to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, the Minnesota High School Coaches' Hall of Fame and the National High School Sports Hall of Fame.
When he retired from coaching at Edina High, Ike found a way to stay active in the sport he loves. He became a scout for the NHL's New York Islanders.
When Ikola retired, Sports Illustrated ran a story headlined, "Everybody still likes Ike" (March 25, 1991 issue) that you can read online.
In today's world of year-around hockey, people might be surprised that the successful coach didn't believe in extending the season.
The magazine quoted former player Paul Ranheim, then left wing for the Calgary Flames: "Coach Ikola definitely knew when to push and when to laugh. He almost certainly would have produced more pros if he had urged year-round play. He doesn't. In fact, he's against it.".
Ikola told SI: "In the summer, kids should fish, swim. In the fall, they should play football. Later in the spring, they should run track, play baseball. Really, four months of hockey is plenty."
If you have more information about "I like Ike" buttons, or can add to our button collection, please contact me.
As I was looking up information about Braemar Arena for a committee working on a hockey history wall, I noticed it opened on Dec. 14, 1965 -- 45 years ago today.
As you can see by the images above, Braemar was part of a huge park-building effort as the village became more suburban. From just one park in 1955, the village owned 22 parks just 10 years later. Improvements included the metro area's first municipal pool and first municipal golf course.
Nine Mile Creek bike trail made headlines this week, but as the second page notes, Edina long ago began acquiring land along the creek for open green space.
These two pages are part of a report documenting changes in Edina from 1955 to 1965. We have several great summary reports in our collection, some published by the Village (later City) of Edina and some by community organizations such as the League of Women Voters. They provide a great snapshot of life in the community.
The Hornets are to state hockey as the Yankees are to Major League Baseball: you expect them to get in the playoffs. Edina has the most Minnesota state championships, finishing first for the 10th time just last year. Eveleth-Gilbert, International Falls and Roseau are the next highest, with 7 championships each.
While many remember Edina's rise to prominence under legendary coach Willard Ikola in the 1970s, Edina made its first state hockey appearance in 1955 with coach Ted Greer.
The Hornets didn't even place back then.
Considering that Edina's high school program was in its infancy (the high school opened in 1949 without a senior class), just getting to the big show was an accomplishment.
We have the 1955 Minnesota State High School League tournament program in our files. I'd love to have the other programs from the Hornets' state hockey appearances. Believe me, it would be quite a large collection... here is a list of Edina's hockey tournament appearances, season records, and final finish:
1957 16-7 Fifth
1960 15-4-3 Sixth
1962 16-3-2 Fifth
1969 25-1 First
1970 24-1-2 Second
1971 22-2-3 First
1972 22-1-1 Fifth
1982 22-4 First
1983 21-3-2 Fifth
1984 21-4-1 First
1988 21-5-1 First
1989 22-4-1 Fifth
1995 AA 21-6-1 Third
1996 AA 18-8-2 Second
1997 AA 25-3 First
1998 AA 22-6 Sixth
2000 AA 19-9 Fourth
2007 AA 27-3-1 Fifth
2008 AA 28-3 Second
2009 AA 26-5 Fifth
2010 AA 23-6-2 First
The 1955 team (photo at right from program) included: Bernard Nielsen, Austin Brisbois, Larry Johnson, Murray MacPerson, LeRoy Ryan, Coach Ted Greer, Jim Richards, Walt Sirene, Pete Kuhlman, Bob Steinweg, Jim Emerson, Bill Strout and student manager Arnold Coppe.
If you have memorabilia moldering away in your basement or garage, please consider donating your things to the Edina Historical Society. Please contact me at 612-928-4577 for more information.
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Jennifer Adam is the Executive Director of the Edina Historical Society. She welcomes your contributions. Comment on a post or send an email (see below). Traditional mail, of course, can also be sent to:
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