PHOTOS BY Dawn Busch 2016-17 U10A Team (all are in 9th grade this year). Top row: Fiona Oberhofer, Ava Busch-Manske, Ella Westerman, Olympian & Gopher Alum Hannah Brandt, Gabi Bullert, Avee Anderson, Anneka Dahlberg, and Ashley Griffin. Middle row: Sherid
The Mounds View Irondale association put together a patch that will be represented on all the girl’s jersey’s throughout the season in order to honor this milestone. The patch also is a tribute to the original 1970 girls team and all the female members th
Very few organizations are able to say that they are pioneers within their respective industry. It’s a rarity and an aspect which can illuminate an association’s humble beginnings. Mounds View Irondale Youth Hockey association is one of the few that has the ability to say they were innovative enough to bring aboard something new and fresh.
Mounds View Irondale, originally known as Lake Region Hockey, put together the first known instance of organized girls hockey in the state of Minnesota, establishing the beginning of a new tradition in 1970. This year they are celebrating that milestone with their 50th year anniversary of girls hockey. The association had put together various events last summer to begin celebrating but they were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those events included creating a custom float last summer and riding it through a local parade.
“It was supposed to be a lot bigger and lot more involved as you can probably imagine, but the world got in the way,” said Tracy Henry, Chairman of the 50th anniversary committee.
Henry is also a longtime member of the board and is overseeing how the organization can properly honor the girls game this season. One of the ways they are highlighting their history is by wearing a 50th anniversary patch on all their jerseys throughout the course of the season. The league’s first girls coaches include Jerry Smith and Pete Paulos who put together the first two girls teams. They also helped land the team’s first sponsors – Vitales, a supplier of sporting equipment, along with Merle Norman Cosmetics.
Jerry Smith is the father of Sue Smith, who was one of the girls to play on the original girls team in 1970. The association struggled early on year-to-year to put together a full girls team, so Sue shuffled between playing with boys and girls. 1974 was a year where the number of girls participants was low, but that gave Sue another opportunity to play with the boys and it paid off. That year’s Bantam team went on to win the state title.
Looking back now, Sue is immensely proud of how far girls hockey has come within the association and the resiliency it has shown through the years it has had minimal numbers.
“It’s great to see because obviously hockey was not known as a girls sport, so when we started to grow and prove to the guys we could play the game, it was fun to see,” Sue said.
Sue paid it forward and went on to coach girls hockey for the same association she played for from 1998 to 2004.
The youth girls team and the high school girls team have both had much success as the Mounds View Irondale association has continued to grow. The youth girls captured the 15U B state championship in 2016 and were runner-ups in the 15U A state championship in 1996.
The Mounds View high school girls team has made appearances in the 1997, 1998, 1999, 2012 and 2014 state tournaments while the Irondale high school girls team played in 2009, 2010 and 2013 state tournaments.
The association had the idea to put together a reunion for some of the original players from the 1970 team which includes Sue Smith and Chris Kinard Hamer, but the decision was made to dismiss the idea due to the pandemic. Although the current global crisis has put a damper on things, the association continues to strive to find ways to celebrate their rich history.
“For us, we just take a ton of pride in it. Girls hockey started in that 1970-71 season but it didn’t last continuously until now,” Henry said. “At some points in time there was no girls game until it was brought back again permanently. We’re just really proud of that fact, and we were the ones who were progressive enough to really determine that girls needed a sport and team of their own and it was good for them to have that. We are just proud to be at the forefront of that.”
The association currently has 123 girls playing altogether and they generally play their games at the Shoreview arena in Ramsey County along with the Super Rink in Blaine. Mounds View/Irondale has produced several collegiate athletes and women who have gone on to play in the NWHL. Some of those Division I players include: Keirsten Supina (Union College), Amy Udvig (Minnesota State), Lindsay Brown (Ohio State), Meghan Lorence (University of Minnesota), Sam Donovan (Brown), Sydney Brodt (UMD, US Women’s National Team, PWPHA Team Adidas and currently one of an assisted coach at her former HS Mounds View, when she’s not playing), Madeleine (Maddie) Peake (Princeton)
and Bella Sutton (Penn State).
Irondale junior varsity players celebrate a goal.