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Copper Country Hockey History, choose time...
1880s 1890s 1900s


1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2005


The Amphidrome company was organized in 1901 when it acquired the location on the shore of Portage Lake from the Ruppe estate. Early the next year, the main Amphidrome rink building was completed. A number of years later, after the old armory collapsed, an elaborate addition was built at the west end of the building to serve as an armory. For a number of years, James R. Dee, prominent realty holder in Houghton, served as the Amphidrome company president.

1900-01 The Portage Lake team was the Champions of the West and came within one game of being the Champions of the Nation. Their home ice was the Palace in Ripley, a former Lake Superior Smelting Works building with posts down the middle of the ice.  Some of their games included that season:
1st game for the season Jan 7, 1902: PL 6, Dollar Bay 3
PL line up for this game was: Gibson, Delaney, Washburn, Melky, Willson, Rowe, Haller. Dollar Bay line was: Frenette, LaMar, St. Amant, Kirkpatrick, Marshall, Rogers, Hikonen.
Jan 24: PL 8, Minneapolis 4. Minneapolis player Fairchild suffered a skull fracture from a bad fall and strike by a players long skate, he was carried off ice to the hospital.
Jan 25: PL 2, St Paul 0
Feb 21: PL 5, Kenwood of Chicago 0. A game played before 1,000 fans in the old Ripley Palace. The local paper at the time said "It was the largest crowd at any event of the type in the country and many were turned away for lack of room. The seats? were a mass of brown and white ribbons and pandemonium reigned following the match which saw the players literally carried off the ice. Never was such a contest seen in the Copper Country as the one last night." The winner of this game was named the Champions of the West. The Champion Portage Lake team traveled to Pittsburg in March for a match to determine the Championship of the Nation, where they split the series:  PL 5, Pittsburg 4, next game: PL 2, Pittsburg 3 and that's how the season ended in those days of natural ice.
1900-01 Portage Lake Team
1900-01PortageLake_s.jpg (110400 bytes)

Standing L-R: Burt Potter, Ellsworth, Dr. R.B. Harkness, Black, Dr. Earl R. Hay.
Seated L-R: Wellington "Wally" Washburn, Thompson, Dr. John H. Gibson, Webb, Andy Haller, Dr. Percey H. Willson, E. Delaney.

According to the sports section of the 1924 MCM Keweenawan pictorial book, the members of the first hockey team "in the Portage Lake district were: Dr. Gibson, Dr. E.R. Hay, Andy Haller, Wally Washburn, Dr. P.H. Willson, Dr. R.B. Harkness, and C.E. Webb as manager.... Because of his [Doc Gibson] reputation as a hockey player in Canada, and also because of the enthusiasm of the towns people over the game, many Canadian players were attracted to the district and settled here permanently, thus providing sufficient material to assure the success of the sport. The first games were played in one of the abandoned buildings of the Portage Lake Foundry, but when the team finished an exceptionally satisfactory season by defeating Pittsburg, the fans got together and over night subscribed enough money to build the Amphidrome [built 1902]." 

1901 Michigan College of Mines (now Michigan Technological  University) had a hockey team in 1901 that played informal games with teams from the surrounding area according to the 1985 Michigan Tech Centennial book.  
A photo of the 1903 MCM team appears here: 

Standing Lt to Rt:
"Soo" Bailey, Carl B. Dunster, "Davey" Davidson, George  B. Botsford -Capt. 
Seated: Ned J. Churchill, Alex P. Campbell, Z. Frank Wheeler, John E.  Rea, Carson W. Smith.

Michigan College of Mines Team
Mich College of Mines sm.jpg (268692 bytes)

Some of the first coaches of the early Michigan Tech teams were Leon HarveyElmer Sicotte, Carlos (Cub) Haug, and Ubald J. (Bert) Noblet.  Coach Noblet was hired in 1929 by the college to direct the athletic department and coach their teams. Coach Noblet arranged for the hockey team to go on a tour to play against prominent Ivy League schools. Tech only won one game, but made the East aware of its hockey program, the program moved from competing against local teams to become an intercollegiate sport.

       Postcard courtesy of Ray & Clare Kolehmainen

Michigan Tech's most notable coach was John MacInnes, who coached Tech hockey from 1956 to 1983. John compiled a record of 555-295-39 at Michigan Tech, he was Nationally recognized at that time as being the winningest coach in college history! Under his coaching, Tech won the NCAA National Hockey Championships in 1962, 1965 and 1975. Coach MacInnes was named NCAA Coach of the Year in 1970 and 1976, and he received the NHL's Lester Patrick Award for service to hockey in the U.S. in 1986, WCHA Coach of the Year six times, and was a charter member of the Upper Peninsula Hall of Fame in 1972. Born in Toronto, Ontario, he played goalie for the University of Michigan and also played for the Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings before coming to MTU in 1956 as hockey coach. He died in 1983, shortly after retiring from coaching for health reasons. Jamie Russell is the current Tech hockey coach. 
Hockey is the only sport where Michigan Tech participates at the Division I level, all other Tech athletic teams are in Division II.  Hockey is a popular sport for many students at Michigan Tech, in the 1983-84 school year, there were 52 intramural hockey teams, with over 10% of their students playing hockey. 
  Over the years, many of Michigan Tech's hockey players were picked as First Team All-American including: Eddie Maki-G, Bob Monahan-D, John Kosiancic-W, Paul Cappo-C, George Cuculick-G, Gerald Sullivan-C, Louis Angotli-W, Henry Akervall-D, Elov Seger-D, Garry Bauman-G, George Hill-C, Bruce Ruitta-D, Tony Esposito-G, Rick Best-G, Gary Milroy-C, Al Karlander-C, Rob Murry-D, Morris Trewin-G, Mike Zuke-C, Jim Nahrgang-D, Bob D'Alvise-C, George Lyle-W, Tim Watters-D, and Jamie Ram-G. Twenty one of these players were coached by John MacInnes. 
  Over 400 Michigan Tech players have gone on to play pro/semi pro hockey according to www.hockeydb.com  
A wonderful History of Michigan Tech Hockey starting with the 1919 season, can be found on the Michigan Tech web page.

At the turn of the century other skating rinks besides The Palace Rink in Ripley included: The Verville in Hancock, The Washburn in Houghton, and The Hamil in Ripley-Hancock which folded when the Amphidrome was built.

"The line up of that "first Pro team" had Wally Washburn in the net, Doc Gibson at cover point, Delaney at point, Doc Willson at right wing, Potter at left wing, Rowe at forward and Haller at rover. The highly rated officials at the time were C. Yates and Dr. HB. Harkness. The early teams operated out of the Palace Rink in Ripley, but in 1902 James R. Dee, with the wholehearted support of local citizens built the "Old Amphidrome" so that "his teams" would have a place to play." according the DMG, August 1, 1961. In this 1961 article, written by Mr. Rene Adams, Michigan Tech's Athletic Publicist: "Wally Washburn was the only living hockey player on the first Portage Lake team. Wallie's career extended through 1902, being cut short by leg and knee injuries." 

1902 The Amphidrome (the "Drome") was built on the shore of Portage Lake in Houghton, Michigan with stock funds raised by James R. Dee, the "father of American hockey" for a cost of $16,000 It was built on the Ruppe property on Portage Lake. The rink was built two blocks from the Copper Range Rail Depot, one block from the South Shore Depot and one block from the Street Railway, to ensure ready access by spectators. It had seating for 2,500 hockey fans with standing room for another 600. At the time, Houghton had a population of 3,359 so perhaps there were a couple of townspeople who had not yet caught the hockey bug!  The first game played in the rink was the Portage Lake team vs the Toronto Varsity on Monday Dec 29, 1902.  In 1903, the local newspaper printed "The building [the Amphidrome] is one of the largest and most costly of its kind in the United States..."

The Amphidrome on Portage Lake
AmphidromeFromPL s.jpg (100852 bytes)

1902  The first hockey game was played at the Amphidrome on December 30, 1902.

On December 26, 1902, the Palace Ice Rink in Hancock/Ripley, closed permanently and it's manager became the Amphidrome Manager. The Palace ice rink was an abandoned mining building that had supporting posts in the middle, on the ice sheet, making a hockey game there somewhat challenging!

Inside the Amphidrome
Amphidrome inside pre 1927.jpg (72154 bytes)

1902-03 A four team league played in Michigan's Upper Peninsula: Houghton, Hancock, Laurium and Sault Ste. Marie, all of Michigan. 

1903 The first Championship Hockey Team from the Copper Country was the Portage Lake Hockey Team who were considered the Champions of the United States for the 1902-03 season. Their home ice was the original Amphidrome in Houghton, Michigan.

Portage Lakes 1902-03 Season: 
(The games and scores are listed on this picture)

Dec 27 Toronto Univ 2 - PL 13
Jan 23 St. Paul 2 - PL 20
Jan 24 St. Paul 6 - PL 8
Jan 30 St Louis 0 - PL 13
Jan 31 St Louis 1 - PL 10
Feb 4 Detroit 2 - PL 11
Feb 5 Detroit 3 - PL 12
Feb 9   Victorias of Pittsburg 1 - PL 10
Feb 10 Victorias of Pittsburg 6 - PL 7
Feb 12 Duluth 0 - PL 13
Feb 23 P.A.C Pittsburg 1 PL 11 [Pittsburg (sic) Athletic Club]
Feb 24 P.A.C Pittsburg 1 PL 3
Mar 2 Bankers of Pittsburg 0 PL 0
Mar 3 Bankers of Pittsburg 0 PL 1
They finished the season undefeated including a final game win against the Pittsburg [sic] Bankers.

1902-03 Portage Lake
Champs of the United States
1902-03PortageLakeChamps s.jpg (130135 bytes)
Top Row L-T: A Haller -Sub, J.H. Stephens, C.E. Webb -Manager,  L.J. Ames -Trainer, J.C Baker -Point, Front row: J.L Gibson -C. Point and Captain, R. Rowe -Left, J.H. Jones -Goal, C.E. Wescott -Right, H.E. Meinke -Center. Paddy the Mascot dog. 

Photo courtesy of Houghton County Museum

1903 to ? A number of local High Schools had hockey teams including ...................

1903 In the Fall of 1903, Doc Gibson and Manager Charles E. Webb took a ten day trip to Canada "for the purpose of arranging games with Canadian teams and also to pick up a player or two to fill out the Portage Lakes line. The team replaced the heavy brown sweaters with white neck and arm bands of the previous seasons with a green jersey, no bands or white neck, but retaining the winged Portage Lakes emblem." according to the local newspaper.



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Web Page designed, researched and maintained by Connie Julien 
2003 ~ 2008 Copper Country Hockey History

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