Willard Ikola and Edina: The Early Years Stats

The stats are familiar: From 1958 to 1991, Willard Ikola coached the Edina Hornets to eight state championships in 1969, 1971, 1974, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1984, and 1988. He won 22 Lake Conference titles, 19 section titles, and 19 state tournament appearances. His overall record was 616-149-38. He is considered the most renown coach in the history of MN High School Hockey.

But how did Hornet teams do before their first title in 1969? Well, they were pretty darn competitive, and pretty early on…

As early as 1951 Edina (Morningside) was playing St. Louis Park in the Region VI semifinals, losing 4-2. In 1952, Edina-Morningside won the Lake Conference championship, but they lost again to St. Louis Park in the region semifinals 4-1. In 1953 they lost to old power St. Cloud Tech, 6-3 in the semifinals. In 1954 they were co-champions of the Lake Conference with St. Louis Park while Wayzata took third. The three teams met in a playoff to determine two Region VI berths. Edina lost both of those games, 3-2 (OT) to St. Louis Park, and 5-1 to Wayzata. (Wayzata would eventually go to state.) In 1955, Edina-Morningside won the Lake Conference Championship again. They beat St. Cloud Tech 4-2, and then beat Winona 4-0 in the region final. However, at state they lost both of their games, 4-0 to South St. Paul, and 7-2 to Eveleth. In 1956, Edina-Morningside won the Lake Conference and beat Detroit Lakes by a whopping 16-1 in the region semifinals. They then beat St. Louis Park 3-something (sorry, data missing) to head back to state. Once there, a goaltender by the name of Murray MacPherson had one of the greatest save performances in the history of the tournament. In the quarters his team lost to Thief River Falls 3-2 (3 OT) despite stopping 54/57 shots. In the consolation semis Edina beat White Bear Lake 3-2 (2 OT), stopping 24/26 shots. For 5th place, Edina was outshot 2 to 1, losing 1-0 to Johnson, but Murray stopped 31/32 shots. He ended up making the All-Tournament Team along with teammate Larry Carlson. In 1957 it was another Lake Conference championship. They beat Rochester 3-1 in the semis, and Richfield 3-1 in the region finals. At state they improved from last year. They lost again in the quarters, getting beat by Mpls. South 6-0. In consolation though they beat Hallock 4-0 behind Chuck Steinweg’s 15 saves. For 5th place they beat St. Paul Murray 2-1. Jim Emerson made the All-Tournament team with three goals and an assist. The Hornets finished with a record of 16-7.

Once Ikola arrived on the scene as the new head coach in 1958, the Hornets competed but didn’t make it to state. They beat Richfield 3-1 and Rochester 3-2 (OT), but they lost to their old nemesis St. Louis Park, 1-0 in the region final. In 1959 times were even tougher. They tied with Wayzata for 5th in the Lake Conference and lost right away to them in regions 2-0. In 1960 the Hornets (15-4-3) came back strong as Lake Conference champions. They beat Richfield 4-0 and Minnetonka 4-1 to advance to state. Once there, goaltender Bill Bieber did a McPherson-like number and made the most of his chances by making the All-Tournament Team. He stopped 37/41 shots in an eventual loss to St. Paul Washington 4-3 (OT). In what must be one of the schools most unusual games in history, the Hornets were outshot by Eveleth 32-9, but won the game 2-1 in consolation semis. They lost 5th place to Mpls. Washburn 3-1, though Bieber stopped 32/35 shots. In 1961, the Hornets left early with a 2-1 (OT) semifinal loss to Richfield. In 1962, Edina-Morningside (16-3-2) beat Hopkins 5-0, St. Louis Park 3-2, and avenged their loss last year to Richfield with a 2-1 win in the region finals. At state they lost to Doug Wood and the Packers 4-2 in the quarters. In consolation they beat St. Paul Monroe 4-0. Then they beat Mpls. Washburn 3-1 for 5th place. Mike McRoberts made the All-Tournament Team with two goals and two assists. In 1963 the Hornets beat Minnetonka 3-0, Hopkins 3-1, but lost again to Richfield 6-4 in region finals. In 1964 the Hornets beat Detroit Lakes 6-1 but then lost to up-and-comers Bloomington 1-0 in region semis. In 1965 the Hornets beat Wayzata 6-0, Minnetonka 5-3, but had their hearts dashed with a 4-3 (2 OT) loss to Bloomington Lincoln in the region final. In 1966 it was a 4-1 victory over Wayzata before bowing again to Bloomington (Kennedy) 4-3 in region semis. (Bloomington eventually made their third straight state tournament.) In 1967 the Hornets (now called “Edina”) beat St. Louis Park 5-0, Hopkins 5-4, and Richfield 1-0 in the region final. At state they actually went into the tournament undefeated (19-0-1). However, they bowed out early with a 3-1 loss to Johnson and a 4-1 loss to Roseau respectively. In 1968 Edina (15-5-2) had one of their most explosive region stretches to date. They beat Orono 8-1, St. Louis Park 7-0, and Richfield 7-1 in the final. At state the woes continued with a 6-2 loss to South St. Paul and a 6-2 loss to Roseau. However, Bob Krieger was named to the All-Tournament Team with two goals.

Everything after that would change for the Edina program. Ikola’s teams would win eight state titles over the next 23 years to go along with 15 section titles. But before that period, from 1958-68, Ikola’s teams would make it to the state tournament four times (1960, 1962, 1967, 1968) while making it to the region finals seven times. Their biggest test during those times was the Bloomington school, which went to state four times (1961, 1964-66). Edina would finish no higher than 5th place at state, but the Hornets were buzzing long before Ikola brought them championships – and even before Ikola was a fixture at the school.


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