Forty-one years ago, five hockey team members from Fort Frances experienced the same feelings of “bitter disappointment” and “the agony of defeat” as did Rustyn Dolyny when his team, the Michigan State Spartans, lost in the semi-finals of 1999 NCAA tournament earlier this month.
The four players were Joey Armbruster, Ron King, Guy LaFrance, and myself who, along with manager Ted Kotyk, were all members of North Dakota University’s Fighting Sioux.
In 1958, North Dakota lost in the final NCAA game to the Denver University Pioneers. Ron King played an outstanding series and was named to the first-team All-Tournament.
But if history does truly repeat itself, Rustyn will be able to feel the “thrill of victory” because the following year (40 years ago), the Fighting Sioux defeated the Spartans to win the 1959 NCAA championship for the first time for North Dakota.
In that series, Guy scored the overtime goal to beat St. Lawrence University in the semi-final, and assisted in the overtime goal in the final game.
I was assistant captain during that season and Ted was team manager.
We all can feel for Rustyn this year, and wish him better luck next year in keeping the Fort Frances connection in U.S. university hockey alive.