BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Dec. 8, 2020 – Six stalwarts of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's inaugural decade have been named the WCHA All-Decade Team for the 1950s, the league announced Tuesday.
Named to the 1950s squad were forwards John Mayasich of Minnesota, Ben Cherski of North Dakota and John Matchefts of Michigan; defensemen Ken Yackel of Minnesota and Bill Steenson of North Dakota and goaltender Jack McCartan of Minnesota.
The five skaters combined for 414 goals, 396 assists and 810 points during their careers while McCartan posted a .908 career saves percentage that was not bettered by a Golden Gopher netminder until 2011.
The WCHA will announce its 1950s Coach of the Decade on Dec. 9 and its Player of the Decade on Dec. 10.
The 1950s team is the first of seven squads that will be announced by the WCHA during the 2020-21 season. The WCHA will also honor an outstanding head coach and player for each decade as the league celebrates 70 Years of Excellence. For more on the 1950s and the rest of the WCHA's history, visit our 70 Years of Excellence Page.
|WCHA 1950s All-Decade Team|
|Name||Pos.||School||Years||Hometown||By The Numbers|
|John Mayasich||F||Minnesota||1951-55||Eveleth, Minn.||144 G/154 A/298 Pts|
|Ben Cherski||F||North Dakota||1951-55||Saskatoon, Sask.||131 G/57 A/188 Pts|
|John Matchefts||F||Michigan||1951-53||Eveleth, Minn.||57 G/74 A/131 Pts|
|Ken Yackel||D||Minnesota||1952-56||St. Paul, Minn.||70 G/78 A/148 Pts|
|Bill Steenson||D||North Dakota||1956-59||Moose Jaw, Sask.||12 G/33 A/45 Pts|
|Jack McCartan||G||Minnesota||1955-58||St. Paul, Minn.||67 Gms/.980 Sv Pct./2.95 GAA|
John Mayasich, Minnesota (Eveleth, Minn.), 1951-55
Named to the WCHA's Top 50 Players in 50 Year list in 2002 … Named to the AHCA All-Time West Team for the 100th Anniversary of college hockey in 1997 … Inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976 … Four-time All-American … Four-time All-WCHA … Still holds the WCHA record for career assists (144) and ranks fourth in career points (298) … Only player in WCHA history to win three consecutive league scoring titles (1952-53, 1953-54, 1954-55) … Only player in Minnesota Golden Gopher history to have his jersey retired … Minnesota's all-time leading scorer … Led the Gophers in scoring in all four seasons with the Maroon & Gold … Tallied 298 career points in 111 games (2.68 PPG) … His 144 career goals are still a school record and his 154 career assists stood as the most in program history until 1992 … Holds UM single-game records for goals (six) and points (eight), set in two different games as a senior in 1954-55 … Competed in the 1956 (Silver) and 1960 (Gold) Olympics and skated for six other U.S. national teams … His eight Team USA appearances are the most in USA Hockey history … Leads all WCHA players in career Olympic goals (14) and points (22) and is tied for the lead in assists with eight.
Ben Cherski, North Dakota (Saskatoon, Sask.), 1951-55
"Bullet Ben" was known for his very hard and very accurate shot during his North Dakota playing days … Two-time All-American and two-time All-WCHA (1952-53/1953-54) … Inducted into the University of North Dakota Hall of Fame in 1978 … Still holds the WCHA record for goals by a freshman with 38 in 1951-52 … Tied for third in WCHA history for hat tricks in a season with seven in 1953-54 … Remains the Fighting Sioux/Fighting Hawks record-holder for goals in a season (40), career goals (131), career points (188), hat tricks in a season (seven), career hat tricks (17) and consecutive games with a goal (13).
John Matchefts, Michigan (Eveleth, Minn.), 1951-53
Named to the WCHA's Top 50 Players in 50 Year list in 2002 … Three-time NCAA champion with the Wolverines (1951, 1952, 1953) … NCAA Tournament MOP in 1953 … All-WCHA in 1952-53 … Scored 131 points on 57 goals and 74 assists … U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee in 1992 … Won a silver medal with the United States at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina, Italy … A long-time high school and college hockey coach after his playing days, Matchefts posted a career college coaching record of 208-238-9 at Colorado College (1966-71) and Air Force (1974-85) … Earned WCHA Coach of the Year honors in 1968-69.
Ken Yackel, Minnesota (St. Paul, Minn.), 1952-56
Three-time All-American (First Team in 1954 and 1955, Second Team in 1956) … Three-time All-WCHA First Team selection (1954, 1955, 1956) … Inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986 … Scored 148 points on 70 goals and 78 assists in 112 career games … Served as team captain during the 1955-56 season … Helped Minnesota to back-to-back WCHA regular-season titles and Frozen Four appearances in 1953 and 1954 (1953 MCHL co-champions, 1954 WIHL champions) … 1954 NCAA All-Tournament Team … Returned to Minnesota and served as interim head coach during the 1971-72 season … Named to the ACHA All-Time West Team for the 100th anniversary of college hockey in 1997 … One of only two American-developed players to play in the National Hockey League in the 1950s, playing six regular season games and two Stanley Cup playoff games with the Boston Bruins … Member of the silver-medal winning U.S. hockey team at the 1952 Olympics .. Head coach of the 1965 U.S. National Team.
Bill Steenson, North Dakota (Moose Jaw, Sask.), 1956-59
First three-time All-America in North Dakota history (1956-57, 1957-58, 1958-59), an honor duplicated by only a handful of collegiate stars … Inducted into the University of North Dakota Hall of Fame in 1978 … Two-time All-WCHA honoree (1956-57, 1957-58) … Rated, by veteran observers, for his size, the most able defenseman to play at North Dakota … Tallied 45 points on 12 goals and 33 assists in 83 career games.
Jack McCartan, Minnesota (St. Paul, Minn.), 1955-58
Two-time First Team All-America selection (1956-57, 1957-58) … Two-time All-WCHA First Team honoree (1956-57, 1958-58) … Served as a team captain as a senior in 1957-58 … 1983 inductee into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame … Minnesota's recipient of the 1958 Big Ten Medal of Honor as the top student-athlete at the University … His .908 career save percentage stood as the school record well into the 21st century and still ranks fifth all-time at Minnesota … Also played baseball at Minnesota and was a three-time All-Big Ten third baseman and a 1958 All-American … Helped the Gopher baseball program to its first-ever NCAA title in 1956 along with a Big Ten championship … Helped lead the U.S. to a gold medal at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif., earning All-World honors at goaltender … Also represented the U.S. at the 1959 IIHF World Championships … Won a Bronze Medal at the 1959 Pan American Games as a member of the U.S. baseball team … Played 15 seasons of professional hockey including 12 games with New York Rangers and 42 games with the Minnesota Fighting Saints in the WHA.
Other Top Players of the 1950s
Bill "Red" Hay, Colorado College, 1956-58: Two-time All-American and All-WCHA … Led Colorado College to the 1957 NCAA title … Led the WCHA in scoring with 48 points (16g-32a) in 1957-58. Bill Reichert, 1954-57, North Dakota: Two-time All-American and three-time All-WCHA honoree … Led the WCHA in scoring in 1956-57 with 40 points on 24 goals and 16 assists.
Eddie Miller, Denver, 1951-53: First All-American in Pioneer history (1952) … Earned All-America honors in 1951-52 … Two-time All-WCHA honoree (1951-52/1952-53). Ed Zemrau, 1955-68, Denver: Earned All-America and All-WCHA and NCAA All-Tournament honors after leading the Pioneers to their first NCAA championship in 1957-58.
Lorne Howes, Michigan, 1954-56: Earned back-to-back All-American honors leading the Wolverines to the 1955 and 1956 NCAA championships … 1955-56 All-WCHA honoree and league goaltending champion … 1956 Frozen Four MOP. Willard Ikola, Michigan, 1951-53: Backstopped the Wolverines to back-to-back NCAA titles in 1951 and 1952 … First WCHA goaltending champion in 1951-52. Jim Mattson, Minnesota, 1951-55: Two-time WCHA goaltending champion in 1952-53 and 1953-54 … Two-time All-WCHA and NCAA All-Tournament selection in 1952-53 and 1953-54 and a 1952-53 All-American.
Celebrating 70 Years of Excellence
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association will celebrate 70 Years of Excellence throughout the 2020-21 season. The league will name all-decade teams and players and coaches of the decade for each of its seven decades. The teams and individuals will be selected by a panel of current and former WCHA staffers and media members who have or are currently covering the WCHA. More than 200 nominees were submitted for consideration by the 21 schools that have called the WCHA home since 1951.
About the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Men's League
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association, among the most historic, tradition-rich and successful conferences in all of collegiate athletics, is marking its 69th season of men's competition in 2020-21. The 10-team NCAA Division I conference consists of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (Chargers), the University of Alaska Anchorage (Seawolves), the University of Alaska (Nanooks), Bemidji State University (Beavers), Bowling Green State University (Falcons), Ferris State University (Bulldogs), Lake Superior State University (Lakers), Michigan Technological University (Huskies), Minnesota State University (Mavericks) and Northern Michigan University (Wildcats). For more information, visit wcha.com.