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A History of Hockey, The Iron Rangers, and The U.S.H.L.
(see also Origins of The Iron Rangers)

Hockey Notes:  From Soo Canadians Official Program 70-71

Skates made of wood were first used by hunters about 200 A.D.  Later in Finland hunters used skates made from the leg bones of deer.  Early bone runners were later replaced by iron and then steel.  

The first historical record of a game played on ice involves the Bury Fen team in England in 1813 which played a game known as Bandy with a curved willow stick and hard rubber ball.

Hockey received its name from a French word ""Hocquet" meaning a shepherd's crooked or curved stick.

The modern game of hockey was first played in Kingston and Halifax in about 1860.  Rules were first set up by McGill University students in Montreal in 1879.

 

History of the Iron Ranger Hockey Club
(from the official game program of the 1969-70 season).

  The Marquette Iron Rangers were born in the spring of 1964 when several men in Marquette decided it was time Marquette again had senior hockey.  The Sentinels folded up in the spring of 1961 after operating for almost 15 years and there was no senior hockey to speak of for three years.  During this time Dewey St. Cyr, Jack McCracken, Dick Sondregger, Less Roberts  and Bill Todd used to go to Green Bay and watch the Bobcats play in the USHL.

  In April of 1964 these men plus a few others got together and decided to apply to the USHL for a franchise.  The league awarded Marquette a franchise provided they could sell $20,000 worth of tickets by June 1, 1964.  In a spectacular crash drive the men selected a name (Iron Rangers) and sold $16,000 worth of season tickets in less than a month.  This did not quite meet the league requirements and for a short time things looked bad.  However, the Rangers were saved by the timely financial pledges of the Most Reverend Thomas L. Noa and L.W. Brumm.  Marquette was accepted into the league on the 17th of June, 1964.

  The next item of business was uniforms, equipment, players, and a coach.  Uniforms were ordered and it was announced that every local player interested in a tryout would be given one and Oakie Brumm was hired as coach.  After tryouts for more than 80 players, Brumm selected seven Canadians and seven local boys as the major part of the team for the initial season.

 The Iron Rangers finished their first season in the basement of the strong USHL but not before they had furnished anxious moments for each team in the league.  Their first year record was 10 wins and 16 losses, but out of the 16 losses eight were by one goal and six of these were in overtime.  For their efforts the Iron Rangers were very highly received in each league city and Bob Cox was chosen on the league All-Star team while Brumm was named "Coach of the Year".  Cox was also named Most Valuable Player on the Ranger team.

  The second season saw the Iron Rangers move from last to second place while playing a 29-game schedule.  Major credit for the advance must be given to new goalie Brian Lunney who saved the day time after time with spectacular saves.  Bob Cox, Wayne McQuaig, and Lunney were named to the league All-Star team.  Cox led the team in scoring closely followed by McQuaig.  Roger Venasky was picked as the team's Most Valuable Player.

  The third year(1966-67) the Iron Rangers ran into tough opposition in Waterloo (1-7-0) and Rochester (3-5-0) to end up fourth in a four team league.  Bob Cox again led the team in scoring with 42 points followed by Sopher and McQuaig with 34 points apiece.  Great defensive and offensive play by Barry Cook resulted in his being named Most Valuable Player by his teammates.

  The team moved up to second place with a 19-14-1 record. The fourth year (1967-68) saw a new leader arrive in Jerry Sullivan as he won the league scoring championship with 65 points and was chosen Most Valuable Player by his teammates.

 In 1968-69 the Rangers climaxed all their hard work by finishing in first place.  Brian Lunney tightened up in goal and received the players' Most Valuable Player for his fine play.  Sullivan won his second scoring championship with 87 points.  Line-mates Ozzie O'Neill and Wayne McQuaig tied for second place in the league scoring race giving Marquette a 1, 2, 3 finish.

  A second League Championship was the result of Marquette's sixth season with Ozzie O'Neill leading the way with numerous important goals, many in overtime.  The Rangers clinched the league title with ten games remaining to be played in their thirty game schedule.  Ozzie O'Neill was chosen the most Valuable Player by his teammates and Jerry Sullivan won his third straight scoring championship.

 

A History of Hockey In Marquette.
2-12-56.
Click here to view an historic picture of hockey at the Marquette Branch Prison.

...A game of ice polo was played on open rinks between Marquette, Negaunee, and Ishpeming teams...It couldn't be determined just when the name of ice polo was dropped and the name Hockey substituted, just how many men were on a team, nor what the rules were. In about 1886, it was noted that roller skating was very popular and almost every town in the Upper Peninsula had a rink, so that roller polo was a popular sport, and that no doubt brought about the same game on ice, when any ice was available. The young athletes could transfer from one to the other probably preferring the former because it was played under more comfortable circumstances, could be indulged in no matter what weather, and admission could be charged. The game was just as rough, or more so, than the outside variety according to the brief accounts found. This was many years before sports pages, of course, and often just a few brief paragraphs, with no lineups, would be printed. It was mentioned that in 1886, Marquette, Ishpeming, Negaunee, Houghton, Calumet, and Escanaba had roller polo teams in a sort of informal league. A rubber ball was used, the sticks were small, almost like walking canes, and according to one account, the ball was put in play in the center of the rink and both teams rushed for it, so you can see that it was no mild affair. In the 1890's it was still called polo, but was played on ice also, and several accounts tell of games at either the Ideal ice rink in Marquette, the Cleveland, or the Bancroft in Ishpeming. In one game at the Cleveland rink, played in March of 1891, Ishpeming won by a score of 3 to 1 in five innings, with Pearce doing all the scoring for the winners. It was remarked that the Marquette poloists were great on their own ice pond  but couldn't stand up[ against Ishpeming on their smooth, well-frozen rink. To skip along a little farther, nothing much was said about this sport until February 1913, when a newly organized Negaunee team played two or three games with Marquette. The harbor ice was thick  enough by that time that the city rented a horse and a scraper and a space about 100 x 150 feet was cleared near the end of Washington Street.  The game was played with seven men then, and some of the positions had different names. The rover was the seventh man and he could roam where he pleased. About 1915 the city took over the Cinder Pond and kept cleared and flooded and even built a warming house there, and the street car company had a rink across from their car barns at the end of Presque Isle Avenue. Not much else was said of hockey except for an exhibition game in 1917. That year, what was described as the city's first winter carnival was held. The bobsledding on Front Street, the dog sled races on Washington, and the skating races were followed by a hockey game.  The city had secured the Soo and Calumet teams for an exhibition game. 

Did you Know?
  The first indoor ice rink in Marquette was built near, what is now, Lake Shore Boulevard near Ridge and Arch Streets.

  A hockey team from Marquette used old Iron Ranger uniforms in 1966 and beat a team from Peking, IL 15-3: The team consisted entirely of the Olson Brothers of Marquette.

 

History of The League

  The United States Hockey League has been the stronghold of hockey in the northern Midwest of the United States and southern regions of Canada for more than 25 years.  With the drop of the puck for the 75-76 season, the league will be skating into its 29th year.

 Since its debut in 1947 as the American Amateur Hockey League, the league has progressed and changed its name several times.

  In 1952, it became the Minnesota Hockey League, and in 1956 the name was changed to the United States Central Hockey League.  In 1962, it adopted its present identity-the United States Hockey League.

Many cities have held franchises in the USHL.  Some of these included Minneapolis, Rochester, St. Paul and Hibbing, Minnesota; Lincoln, Nebraska; Dundee, Illinois; Grand Forks, North Dakota; Madison, Wisconsin; Sault St. Marie, Canada; Chicago, Illinois and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

  The league presently consists of two divisions.  The northern division includes Green Bay, Traverse City, Marquette, and Calumet.  The southern division includes Waterloo, Sioux City, Milwaukee, and Central Wisconsin.

  The 48-game league schedule consists of each team playing each other six times.  The league playoff format features the top two teams in each division playing off in a best two-out-of-three series.  The winners then meet for the league championship which is the best three-out-of-five series.

  The USHL has long been a producer for major league hockey.  Such familiar names as Bruce Gamble, Lou Nanne and Gump Worsley have been promoted to the National Hockey League.  The most recent celebrity has been Mike Curran, who moved directly from the Green Bay Bobcats to the U.S. Olympic Team to the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the World Hockey Associatiation.

All USHL owners are to be congratulated for their persistent efforts to make the league competitive, stable, and exciting. It is hoped that the fans in all cities appreciate this dedication, and that they will help make this 29th year a banner one for all franchises.