“The Godfather of US Hockey” and Minnesota’s pride, he was part gentleman, all fighter.
John Mariucci, “The Godfather of US Hockey,” was born May 8, 1916 in Eveleth, Minnesota. The skilled defenseman is virtually synonymous with Minnesota Hockey, thanks to his years playing and coaching at the University of Minnesota.
Although he played both football and hockey as a student at Minnesota, it was in the latter that his true colors shone. In 1940, Mariucci led the team to an undefeated AAU National Championship.
Mariucci turned pro in 1940 and had a brief stint with American League team Providence before settling in with the Chicago Blackhawks for the season’s duration. He enjoyed a versatile reputation, noted as “a character,” a “true gentleman,” and an “infamous brawler.”
Mariucci spent the majority of his career with the Blackhawks – from 1940-1942 and again from 1945-1948 – and eventually became the team captain. During World War II, he played for the Coast Guard team in the Eastern Amateur League. He also played in the American League (St. Louis) and the US League (Minneapolis and St. Paul).
In 1951, Mariucci retired and returned to the University of Minnesota the following year as varsity hockey coach, a position he held for 14 years. He earned a reputation as a staunch supporter of American players, touting their abilities as every bit equal to their Canadian counterparts. Notably, Mariucci’s 1954 team made the NCAA finals.
Mariucci was elected into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973. He died on March 23, 1987 and was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame the following year. In 1993, the University of Minnesota dedicated its new athletic arena to John Mariucci.