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


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

1940s  In the early 1940's, the Portage Lake canal was frozen with "flawless crystal clear ice" for the 9 miles from the North Upper Entry to the Houghton lift bridge. According to the newspaper: "Johnny Ruohonen noticed a Coast Guard sailor in Schmidt's Corner Bar and called his attention to the fact that Portage Lake from Houghton Canal to the lift bridge was covered with a flawless crystal clear ice rarely seen in those days and that kids and adults were skating over the glassy surface for nine miles from the Lake Superior outlet to the bridge by opening their coats as sails. It was pointed out that Ruohonen had heard the commander of the Coast Guard ship docked at the Paoli-Cohodas dock [in Houghton] say the ship was to set out the next day and plow through the perfect ice. The guardsman called his commander's attention to it and asked if he could avoid that route. The commander ordered his ship about, turning East leaving the Portage the Eastern exit, rounding the Keweenaw and heading toward Duluth." [Info supplied to Daily Mining Gazette by Bill Brinkman.]

 1941-43 Inaugural year for the Copper Country Junior Hockey League, organized by Ed Maki and...;  Mort Croze was the president of this League for many years (194?-1956 when he died) Quoted in the local newspaper DMG, "Under his [Croze's] leadership (late 1940's to 1950's) the league developed from its modest beginnings to the going concern it is today with 15 teams registered with the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association." This was quoted the week of the first playoff for the Mort Croze Cup first presentation to the PeeWee division Champions, won by the South Range Rangers in the 1950's? "John Healy, John Aldrich, Emil Sanregret, Paul Sloan, Bill Robertson, Herman Gundlach and Nick Kaiser actively supported youth hockey." When Mort Croze died in 1956, John Ala with H.L. Larson managed CCJr Hockey for 2 years, followed by Clem Banfield. "Oliver Mikkola, Earl Gorman, Joe Houle, Bruno Lucchesi, Andy Wiitanen, Earl and Eva Grandchamp, Fred Zerbst Jr, Alfred Brey, Cliff and Rip Weber, Rob Roy, and the Thornton family contributed much to the continued success of local youth hockey."

 1943  Michigan Tech University and the State of Michigan bought the Amphidrome from the New Amphidrome Company for the sum of $4,500 plus real estate taxes for the 1942 year.  They renamed it the Dee Stadium, after local business man, James R. Dee, who organized the rebuilding of the building after the 1927 fire. The Michigan Tech Hockey team practiced and played their home games in the Dee as well as Intramural hockey and conducted PE classes there. Many community groups played hockey and skated in the Dee also as well as public skating times.

1943-44 Three local hockey standouts played for the Detroit Red Wings:  Tony Bukovich, born in Painesdale; Bernie Ruelle, born in Houghton; and Rudolph (Rudy) Zunich, born in Calumet.

about 1947 The Laurn-Grove outdoor ice rink was built in west Hancock. Al Laurn and Bob Grove were two Hancock boys who lost their lives in WWII; the rink was named after them. "The Laurn-Grove juvenile teams coached by Joe Houle had some of the best talent to ever come out of here. Paul & Mike Coppo, Rod Paavola, Bruce Riutta, Bob Hauswirth, Dave Witting, Herb Boxer, Don Hermanson....were All-Americans in College, Olympians and nearly Pro players, all stemming from this rich history of Laurn-Grove." according to Hancock HS coach Rick Miller.  Laurn-Grove team won the Michigan State Championship in 1956-57.  There were may outdoor rinks in and around Hancock back then including the "Hillside" rink near the blinker light going up Quincy Hill, that had been built much before "Laurn-Grove",  the "Terrace" rink in East Hancock, The Emma rink on Elm Street and the Pine Street rink in Hancock, the "Whispering Pines" rink near the airport, the "Coburntown" rink up on the hill, among others. 

 1940's?? The local Dollar Bay VFW Midget team (the next level down from the Juveniles in Junior Hockey) won National Championships??. 


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

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