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Ike: Minnesota Hockey Icon

One of the legendary figures in Minnesota hockey history, Eveleth native Willard Ikola has joined with local author Jim Hoey to tell the story of his many decades in the game.  Ikola won three state titles in high school as an all-tournament goalie for Eveleth and two NCAA titles with the Michigan Wolverines.  After helping the U.S. take the silver medal in the 1956 Olympics, “Ike” became a coaching legend in thirty-three spectacular years at Edina High School  He was noted for his record eight state titles with the Hornets and for wearing his classic “houndstooth” hat, but the “gentleman” coach became beloved for his modesty, class, and integrity.

In October of 2015, Nodin Press published “IKE:  MInnesota Hockey Icon” and it is receiving rave reviews.  Forewards were written by his former high school teammate John Mayasich and Bruce Carlson, one of his star players at Edina. In addition, blurbs in support of the book were created by hockey luminaries Jeff Saterdalen, Bart Larson, and Wally Chapman.

The 268-page book is written from Ikola’s perspective and includes more than 70 photographs from his long and distinguished career as both a player and coach. Readers will relish reading about how Willard learned how to play the game on the outdoor rinks in Eveleth and his playing days with Mayasich and Matchefts and the first high school dynasty that was the Golden Bears and coach Cliff Thompson.

In addition, Ikola recollects his days as an All-American netminder at Michigan under Vic Heyliger when the Wolverines were the dominant team in the early days of NCAA hockey.  He then chronicles his stint in the U.S. Air Force as a navigator and his experiences playing for two U.S. National teams and the 1956 Olympic team, when the U.S. took the silver and he was named the Most Outstanding Goaltender.

Ikola goes on to tell the story of how he came to be the head hockey coach at Edina High School and how he developed that school into a powerhouse.  He goes on to tell all about his practice regimen, his coaching strategies, and about the relationships he forges in the game.  Of course, there  is a special alone on the famous “hat” he wore for the Edina Hornet games and another on the importance of his family. The book also touches on his overall views on the game of hockey in the state and his coaching philosophy, his experiences as a scout following his coaching career, and the special place the game of hockey holds for him.

Jim Hoey biography

Jim Hoey was born and raised in Taconite, Minnesota on the west end of the Mesabi Iron Range.  He  played forward for three years for Greenway High School in Coleraine and played in three state tournaments with the Raiders – including a state title in 1968.  Hoey played collegiately at St. Mary’s University in Winona and was captain his senior season and later served as head boys coach at both Shakopee and Farmington High Schools.

A retired secondary social studies teacher, Hoey published his first book, Minnesota Twins Trivia, in 2010  and a second edition was produced the next year.  In 2011, his highly-acclaimed book on the state boys high school hockey tournament, Puck Heaven,  was published.  A revised and updated version of that publication came out recently.  Another book, Minnesota Vikings Trivia, came out in 2013.  All the books have been published by Nodin Press out of St. Louis Park.  Hoey resides in Eagan with his wife Ann and son Eddie.

Book Availability

IKE” and “PUCK  HEAVEN” or any of Hoey’s other books can be purchased at any major bookstore or on Amazon.  Both hockey books will be for sale at the Xcel Energy Center concourse during the state tournament from March 2-5 with Willard Ikola present to sign books on both March 3 and 4 between periods and games.  Otherwise, signed and personalized copies of either book  can be acquired from the co-author himself.  Please contact Jim Hoey at (651)  994-7870  or at to make arrangements to get a copy.

2024 State Tourney Guide Issue

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