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Quote Me, Howie: William Oswald on this weekend's Spirit of Duluth youth hockey tournament

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Legendary Spirit of Duluth youth hockey tournament chairman William Oswald on this weekend's 48-team event – "I would like to start out by saying yet another great Spirit of Duluth tournament is in the books, and the 46th annual tourney was a great success. I would like to give a special thank you to Mr. Dave Shea for his extraordinary efforts in making this years Spirit a success. I would also like to say thanks to Spirit committee members Eric Johnson, Gino Bohlman, Lynden Medlin, Blaine Hunter, Kyle Backstrom and Wade Backstrom for all they did to help us be the best youth hockey tournament in the state of hockey!  

This year we had a total of 48 teams in four different divisions: junior gold, bantams, peewees and squirts. Over 110 games were played over three days using nine different rinks. We would like to thank all the volunteers, workers at the various arenas and support staff for all their help making the spirit a success. We pride ourselves in getting the best fields in every division and this year was no exception. It appears good teams want to play in the spirit of Duluth, and over the years many of the same programs continue to come back to our fair city to take part in the Spirit of Duluth. Thanks again to everyone who contributed to our success." 


For a number of years prior to 1977, Duluth Traveling Teams at the Pee Wee, Bantam, and Midget levels were invited to tournaments throughout Minnesota and Canada without the ability to reciprocate and host tournaments of their own. This was due to the lack of access to suitable arenas having artificial ice. With the installation of artificial ice at DAHA’s Peterson Arena in 1975 and the opening of the Pioneer Hall Annex in 1977, coupled with the Duluth Arena and the old curling club already in existence, the stage was set to host a tournament. All that was needed was for someone to start the ball rolling.

On a spring night in 1977, three gentlemen active in both the Lester Park Hockey Program and the Traveling Team Program met in the home of Mike Savard. They were Don Holm, Norm Mangan and Mike Savard. The purpose of their meeting was to discuss the need for a major Traveling Team Tournament in Duluth. Now having four arenas available, it was proposed to host 16 Pee Wee, 16 Bantam and 16 Midget teams and therefore attempt to return the favor for all the tournaments that Duluth teams had attended. Knowing they could rely on the services of the various traveling team coaches and managers and the willingness of many persons interested in youth hockey they laid the groundwork for a tournament of this magnitude. Before adjourning for the evening, Norm Mangan suggested a name, based on Spirit Mountain in the western part of the city and indicative of the renewed vitality of Duluth in its program of upgrading itself and attracting outside business and tourism. Thus the Spirit of Duluth Invitational Hockey Tournament was born.

Don Holm volunteered to chair the Tournament Committee, Norm Mangan to serve as co-chairman and Mike Savard to schedule the games and head the referees. A meeting of all interested parties was scheduled and from that meeting, the first Tournament Committee was set up and the Tournament itself was off the ground and on its way. With all due allowance for the author’s memory (some of the records of the early years having been misplaced) the original tournament committee is as follows:

Don Holm, Chairman

Norm Mangan, Co-Chairman

Mike Savard

Glenn Stevens

Jim Korpi

Bill Crom

Chuck Lund

Floyd Boettcher

Dick Stewart

Bill Cortes

Larry Duncan

Larry Penick

Randy Lasky

Frank Holappa

Bill Mattson

John Sjogren

A format for the Tournament was set up that is still followed to this day. The three divisions were to be divided into brackets of 4 teams, each team playing the other teams in their respective brackets, thus guaranteeing 3 games for all teams. Bracket winners would then advance to semi-finals and finals. All games would be 3 periods of 15 minute stop, no overtimes except in semi-finals and finals. This insured all games to be started on time and all teams were guaranteed 4 games of 15 minute stop periods (with some teams playing 5 games). This format continues today has been one of the attractions of this tournament. To provide interesting competition at all levels, teams were invited from not only Northern and Southern Minnesota, but also from other states including Wisconsin, Colorado, and North Dakota and parts of Canada. The opportunity to play different teams has increased desire in competing in the Spirit of Duluth Tournament.

To put on a tournament of this size and quality takes the help of many volunteers, starting with the 5 members who make up the tournament committee plus the 20-50 people needed during the tournament itself. These are your ticket sellers, scorekeepers, arena helpers, team hosts, paramedics and registration room helpers. Most are mothers and fathers of traveling team players or former traveling team players. Many have not had children in the program for years and some never had children in the program. To all past and present, volunteers go our thanks. Without them the tournament would never had made it through the first year.

The chairman of the committee tell you whatever credit they might have received for a successful tournament was due to the excellence of the committee members serving under them. The stock answer at any tournament committee meeting, when a Director of a sub-committee is asked how things are going in his area, is: "It’s all taken care of," and sure enough, at tournament time, everything falls into place.

Over the years certain changes have taken place and some innovations tried. In 1979, the curling club was no longer available resulting in cutting the Midget Division to 8 teams. This situation continued until 1981. That year the Midget Division was dropped and the Pee Wee and Bantams went to 20 teams in their divisions, 4 brackets of 5 teams. This was continued through 1982. Because of the possibility of a team winning its bracket without playing any team within its bracket and the adverse criticism resulting from this, the divisions were cut back to 16 teams in 1983. That year also came the use of DAHA’s Fryberger Arena for the first time, Peterson not being used. 1984 saw the use of both Fryberger and Peterson Arenas plus the Duluth Arena and Pioneer Hall and the reinstatement of an 8 team Midget Division (Minnesota only). 1985 saw the tournament shared the Duluth Arena and Pioneer Hall with the UMD Bulldogs and the visiting Boston College Eagles. This resulted in 6am games and shortened time between games. In 1986, there was no scheduling conflicts and the tournament schedule and format is as it was in 1984. In 1997 and 1998, girls Pee Wee hockey was included as part of the tournament. In 2000, a conflict developed between the tournament and the UMD mens and womens hockey teams. This has resulted in what appears to be a permanent change from the main ice arena at the DECC to the Mars Lakeview arena at the Marshall School. The tournament schedule and format remain the same as it has from the beginning of the tournament.

Other issues have resulted from the differences between MAHA age classifications and those of AHAUS and CAHA. In 1984, MAHA went to the previous September 1 for a cut-off date, making its players up to 3 months older than out of state teams. In 1985, AHAUS and CAHA moved its age classifications back one entire year to the pervious January 1. This put Minnesota teams at a decided disadvantage in our tournament; being up to 9 months younger than out of state teams. Because of the feedback from Minnesota teams on this matter, this year’s tournament requires all teams to conform to MAHA age classifications.

Over the years, the Spirit of Duluth Hockey tournament has had a tremendous economic impact on the city of Duluth. It is estimated that the Spirit of Duluth tournament brings in over 1.5 million dollars yearly to the Duluth economy. All profits from the tournament help to fund the traveling teams in Duluth, currently the 2 Pee Wee, 1 Bantam and 1 Jr. Gold teams directly benefit from the tournament


The committee that runs the tournament are all volunteers from throughout the community. All games are played in 5-7 arenas depending on the number of teams that will be in the tournament on a given year. The current arenas are Superior (SAHA), the DECC Arena, Amsoil Arena, Fryberger Arena, Mars-Lakeview Arena, and Duluth Heritage Sports Center (Sill & Seitz).

Current Members

Chairman: William Oswald -

Junior Gold: Brent (Gino) Bohlman -

Bantam: Eric Johnson -

PeeWee: Dave Shea -

Squirt: Lynden Medlin -

Past Players

We have been proud of the quality of the teams represented over the years. The players have been a credit to their parents, coaches and themselves. Many outstanding games have been played over the years. Some of the players have gone on to perform at the Tier I, Olympic, and/or professional level. We would like to recognize those who have done so and apologize for any individuals we might have missed. Please email any corrections to Thank you.

Past Players Names Hometown/High School College

Adam Coole Duluth MN St. Cloud St

Adam Pavlatos Duluth MN Bemidji St.

Adam Roy Grand Rapids MN UMD

Andy Canzanello Rochester MN Colorado College

Andy Wheeler Duluth MN Wisconsin

Angie Francisco Duluth MN Harvard

Aaron Miskovich Grand Rapids MN U of M

Barry Richter Madison WI Wisconsin

Ben Clymer Bloomington MN U of M

Ben Hankinson Edina MN U of M

Bill Benson Duluth MN Air Force Academy

Bill Moe Duluth MN St Thomas

Brent Godbout Woodbury MN U of M

Brett Larson Duluth MN UMD

Brian Bolf Hibbing Mn St. Thomas

Brian Bonin White Bear Lake MN U of M

Brian Amundson Duluth, MN MN Mankato

Brian LeFleur Bloomington U of M

Bucky Burleigh Duluth MN West Point

Casey Hankinson Edina MN U of M

Charlie Wasley Edina MN U of M

Chris Marinucci Grand Rapids MN UMD

Clint Johnson Duluth MN UWS

Cory Fairchild Duluth MN St. Cloud

Craig Fellman Duluth MN West Point

Craig Olson Duluth MN UWS

Damion Rhodes Richfield MN Michigan Tech

Dan Trebil Bloomington MN U of M

Darby Hendrickson Richfield MN U of M

Darren Clark Superior WI Colorado College

Darren Wercinski Duluth MN Darthmouth

Darrin Amundson Duluth MN UMD

Dave Gunderson Duluth MN Providence

Dave Spehar Duluth MN U of M

Derek Locker Duluth MN UMD

Derek Plante Cloquet MN UMD

Dirk Gaston Bloonington MN St Cloud St

Doug Torell Hibbing MN UMD

Doug Zmolek Rochester MN U of M

Drew Otten Minnetonka MN UMD

Dylan Mills Duluth MN U of M

Earl Rock Duluth MN Ferris State

Eric Maksuminko Elk River MN St Cloud St

Eric Ramsey Edina MN U of M

Erick Day Elk River U of M

Erick Pagel Minnetonka U of M

Erick Rasmussen St Louis Park MN U of M

Erick Wendell Brooklyn Park MN U of M

Erik Pitoscia Duluth MN UWS

Gerry Anderson Duluth MN St. Scholastica

Grant Bishoff Grand Rapids MN UM

Greg Christenson Duluth MN

Ian Peterson Bloomington Colorado College

Jamie Langenbrenner Cloquet MN NHL

Jason Bortalossi ThunderBay Ont UMD

Jason Francisco Duluth MN Wisconsin

Jason Godbout Woodbury MN U of M

Jeff Nielson Duluth MN U of M

Jeff Sisto Duluth MN Bowling Green

Jerard Reinholz Anoka MN

Jesse Bertobliat Cloquet MN U of M

Jim Moline Duluth MN Gustavus Adolphus

Joe Cullen Moorhead MN St. Cloud

Joe Pankratz Bloomington MN U of M

Joel Thorp Brooklyn Park U of M

Joey Bianchi Bloomington MN Wisconsin

Joey Golcz Duluth MN

John Brill Grand Rapids MN U of M

John Korpi Duluth Mn

John Moline Duluth MN St. Johns

Jon Michelizzi Duluth MN Wisconsin

Jon Rohloff Grand Rapids MN UMD

Jon Schwarthbauer White Bear Lake MN U of M

Josh DeWolf Bloomington Mn St Cloud

Josh Miserek Duluth MN Bowling Green

Kaj Masksimenko Edina MN St Cloud St

Keith Tahtinen Duluth MN West Point

Kent Sauer St Cloud MN

Kevin Hoogsteen Thunder Bay Ont North Dakota NHL

Kevin Rapanna Duluth MN North Dakota

Kevin Starren Proctor MN UMD

Kirk Nielson Grand Rapids MN Harvard

Kyle Kolquist Duluth MN Notre Dame

Lon Hovland Duluth MN UWS

Mark Gunderson Duluth MN UMD

Mark Olson Duluth MN UWS

Mark Parrish Bloomington MN St Cloud St

Matt Crowley Bloomington MN U of M

Matt Cullen Moorhead MN St Cloud St

Matt Leimbeck Rochester MN U of M

Matt Mathias Duluth MN Alaska Anchorage, UMD

Matt Snesrud Cloquet MN Michigan Tech

Matt Taus Elk River MN U of M

Mike Anderson Duluth MN U of M

Mike Benson Duluth MN Air Force Academy

Mike Miskovich Grand Rapids MN

Mike Vukonich Duluth MN Harvard

Nate Anderson Deerwood MN UMD

Nate Ziemski Duluth MN

Nathan Crockerham Superior WI

Nick Angell Duluth MN U of M

Nick Checco Bloomington MN U of M

Nick Licari Duluth, MN Wisconsin

Nick Patronas Duluth MN UMD

Pete Stauber Duluth MN Lake Superior State

Phil Kessel Madison, WI U of M

Reggie Berg Anoka MN U of M

Rheese Carlson Duluth MN UW River Falls

Richard Mrozik Cloquet MN UMD Rick Enrico Wisconsin

Rick Haney Duluth MN Harvard

Rico Pagel Minnetonka MN U of M

Rob Anderson Superior WI UMD

Robb Stauber Duluth MN U of M

Ross Carlson Duluth, MN Wisconsin

Ryan Coole Duluth MN UMD

Ryan Frisch Moorhead MN St. Cloud

Ryan Kraft Moorhead MN U of M

Scott Engen Duluth MN

Scott Fillenworth Duluth MN Harvard

Scott Ludwig Bloomington MN St Cloud St

Sean Hill Duluth MN Wisconsin

Shane Kvalevog Bemidji MN North Dakota

Shaun Leimbek Rochester MN U of M

Shawna Davidson Duluth MN New Hampshire

Steve Aronson Minnetonka MN St Cloud St

Steve Ludwig Bloomington MN St Cloud St

Steve Elsmore Duluth MN Merrimac

Tim Sisto Duluth MN St. Scholastica

Toby Petersen, Bloomington MN , Colorado College

Todd Mickolajak Duluth MN

Tom Nevers Edina MN U of M

Tom Pink Superior WI

Ton Nelson Superior WI

Tony Burns Duluth MN St Cloud

Tony Schmalzbauer Moundsview, MN

Troy Clark Superior WI Colorado College

Woody Glines Elk River MN U of M

Nick Serre Duluth, MN Army

Chad Roberg Duluth, MN U of M

Ryan Michela Duluth, MN Wayne State

Jake Fleming Osseo/Maple Grove U of M

David Iannozzo Osseo/Maple Grove St. Cloud

Brian Amundson Duluth Mankato State

Eric Means Rochester MN U of M

Jon Toftey Duluth MN Army

Wade Salzman Duluth MN Notre Dame

Ben Barr Duluth MN RPI

Mike Marshall Duluth MN Bethel

Jeremy Jennette Duluth MN UW-River Falls