Johnson High School Hockey is 100 years in the making

Picture of ‘47 Johnson High State Hockey Champs (submitted photo)

On the slide

The date of the 100-year anniversary celebration of the Johnson High School boys hockey team is getting close at hand.

The celebration will be Saturday, Dec. 21, and things are beginning to really heat up for a get-together of East Siders that might prove hard to handle -- especially when it involves old hockey players, with old memories.

The event is billed as “The Pride of the East Side.”

A committee, headed up by Ken Erickson, vice president of the Johnson Alumni Club, has been meeting for several months to plan what is rapidly turning out to be a huge gala affair.

It is all going to happen Dec. 21. It will run all day long and committee members hope well into the night.

Of course, there will also be hockey games. In addition to alumni games that will begin at 8 a.m. Dec. 21 at Johnson Arena just behind Johnson High School, there will be JV and varsity hockey games at Aldrich Arena.

Johnson High hockey coach Steve “Moose” Younghans said, “We wanted to get as many former players and fans in to see our arena (as we could). It has been recently remodeled and it is something to see, just from the standpoint of the memorabilia that it contains.”

On Friday, Dec. 20, all former players who will be involved in the next day’s alumni games are invited to a Friday night informal reception that will be held at Jimmy’s, 1230 E. County Road E, Vadnais Heights, from 7 to 10 p.m.

The Dec. 21 boys games between the South St. Paul High School Packers and Governors at Aldrich will be played at 1 p.m. (JV) and 3 p.m. (varsity).

Following the games at Aldrich, everyone will be invited to proceed to Jimmy’s Restaurant, located just east of Interstate 35E on County Road E in Vadnais Heights.

Proprietor Jimmy Proulx, a Johnson alumnus, has been a member of the “Pride of the East Side” committee since its inception.

Younghans estimates there may be nearly 200 former skaters attending the event.

“Right now there are ... about 100,” he said. “They are coming out of the woodwork to be a part of this thing.”

Interest is widespread. Committee members have heard from friends from throughout the country who are planning to attend the boys hockey centennial celebration.

Tickets are a steal at just $30

The cost of a ticket will not only get you into the afternoon games, but it will allow you entrance into the evening gala at Jimmy’s, which begins at 5 p.m. Each person with a ticket will receive a commemorative pin.

In addition to a wide array of displays covering pictures of boys hockey teams from 1913 on, there will be many action shots of players and teams down through the years. The committee will display them by decade, running up to the present.

There is a book about the history of Johnson High School hockey that was researched and written a few years ago as a student senior project. The book was a joint project between several hockey players and will be on sale at the celebration.

The gathering will provide a bonanza of souvenir clothing. There will be hats, T-shirts, hooded sweatshirts and jackets with the Johnson logo.

Former players, for the additional $30 it costs to play in the alumni game, will receive a maroon-and-white jersey with their name and number embroidered on it.

Those former players who don’t play, or for some reason can’t make it to the event, will have the opportunity to order and receive the same personalized jersey by ordering it online.

Buffet and program

On a couple of different nights in November, several former players, stretching back to Orv Anderson and Howie “Towser” Ekstrom from the 1947 Johnson state championship team, shared their experiences in front of a camera.

These narratives will be edited and compiled on a disc that will be offered for sale during the event at Jimmy’s.

There will also be numerous other items that will be up for bid and will appeal to many other interests other than hockey.

Then, amid this truly carnival atmosphere and conversations, at about 6:15 p.m. people will be invited to sit down to a grand buffet dinner. A formal program will take place after the meal.

For more information about the “Once in a Lifetime Pride of the East Side Celebration,” go to: Then scroll to: “100 Years of Johnson Hockey.”

I’ll see you there!

Wally Wakefield can be reached at


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