BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Feb. 4, 2021 – The ringleader of one of the greatest teams in Western Collegiate Hockey Association history, North Dakota's Tony Hrkac has been named the WCHA Player of the Decade for the 1980s. The honor is presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup and SPIRE Credit Union.
A native of Thunder Bay, Ont., Hrkac entered North Dakota as a freshman in the fall of 1984 and scored 18 goals with 36 assists in his rookie campaign. He joined Canada's Olympic Development Program for the 1985-86 season before returning to North Dakota in the fall of 1986 to author the greatest scoring season in WCHA history.
In 1986-87, Hrkac tallied 116 points on 46 goals and 70 assists. The point total still stands as a WCHA and NCAA record while the assist total remains a WCHA record and his 46 goals rank 15th in league history. Hrkac captured the WCHA Scoring Championship with 86 points on 36 goals and 50 assists in WCHA play with the point and assist marks still topping the league charts to this day. He remains the only player in WCHA history to reach 110 points and 70 assists in a single season.
Hrkac and his UND teammates skated to a 40-8-0 overall record and a 29-6-0 WCHA mark in 1986-87, both of which stand as league records for victories and victories in WCHA play. The Fighting Sioux captured the MacNaughton Cup and the WCHA postseason title en route to the NCAA crown.
Hrkac went on to win the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey's best player that season, marking the first time a UND player won the award. He was also named the WCHA's Most Valuable Player, All-WCHA, All-American and the NCAA tournament's Most Outstanding Player in 1987.
A 1984 draft choice of the St. Louis Blues, Hrkac played professionally for 18 seasons (1987-2005), including 12 seasons in the NHL, where he scored 132 goals and recorded 239 assists for 371 points in 758 career games for nine different teams.
Among his many accomplishments, Hrkac was a member of the Stanley Cup champion Dallas Stars in 1999 and member of the 2004 Milwaukee Admirals team that won the American Hockey League's Calder Cup. He was named to the WCHA's Top 50 Players in 50 Years list in 2002 and was inducted into the UND Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.
Hrkac is the fourth of seven Player of the Decade honorees that will be announced by the WCHA during the 2020-21 season. The WCHA is also honoring an outstanding coach and selecting an All-Decade Team for each decade as the league celebrates 70 Years of Excellence.
Other Top Players of the 1980s
Tom Kurvers, D, Minnesota Duluth (1980-84): WCHA's No. 3 all-time scorer among defensemen with 192 points … No. 4 in WCHA defenseman assists with 149 and No. 7 in blueliner goals in WCHA history with 43 … Posted 76 points on 18 goals and 58 assists as a senior in 1983-84 … The assist and point totals are the second-best by a defenseman in a single season in WCHA history … One of five WCHA Hobey Baker Award winners in the 1980s. Robb Stauber, G, Minnesota (1986-89): First goaltender to win the Hobey Baker Award (1988) and one of five WCHA Hobey winners in the 1980s … Two-time WCHA Goaltending Champion (1987-88, 1988-89) … 1987-88 WCHA MVP … Holds the WCHA single-season records for wins (34) and wins in WCHA play (28), both set in 1987-88 … Helped the Gophers to three-straight NCAA Frozen Four appearances in his three-year career (1987, 1988, 1989). Pat Micheletti, F, Minnesota (1982-86): Three-time All-WCHA honoree … Hobey Baker finalist and All-American in 1984-85 … WCHA's No. 7 career scorer with 269 career points on 120 goals and 149 assists … Ranks seventh in career goals and tied for 13th in career assists in WCHA history. Marc Behrend, Wisconsin, 1980-83: Two-time Frozen Four MOP (1981, 1983) … Surrendered just two goals in two NCAA championship game appearances … WCHA career winning percentage record-holder at .842 (49-8-3) … His .921 winning percentage in 1982-83 ranks No. 2 for a single season in WCHA history.
Previous WCHA Player of the Decade Winners
1950s: John Mayasich, F, Minnesota
1960s: Keith Christiansen, F, Minnesota Duluth
1970s: Mark Johnson, F, Wisconsin
For more on the 1980s and the rest of the WCHA's history, visit our 70 Years of Excellence Page.
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 Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup
Anderson's Maple Syrup Inc. is proud to continue its 90-year tradition of producing, processing, and packaging consistently high-quality pure maple syrup, organic pure maple syrup, and other maple products. For more information, visit Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup.
About Spire Credit Union
Founded in 1934, SPIRE Credit Union's commitment to friendly, personal and genuine service remains today. Founded as Twin Cities Co-ops Credit Union, SPIRE strives to improve lives through banking with a purpose as one of Minnesota's top credit unions. For more information, SPIRE Credit Union.
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.