The name of John Mariucci is indelibly etched into the history of American hockey as well as that of his native Minnesota. He did, in the words of an old but appropriate clichÃ©, become a legend in his own time. Mariucci was another Cliff Thompson coached player who went on to bigger and better things. After attending high school in Eveleth he went on to the University of Minnesota where he starred in football as well as on the ice â€“ even leading his squad to an undefeated AAU National Championship in 1940.
Turning pro that year, Mariucci played briefly for Providence of the American League before joining the Hawks for the balance of the season. In Chicago he became a fixture manning the Blackhawks defense until the end of the 1948 season and eventually becoming the team captain in the process. Never one to back away from a fight, the hard rock Mariucci was second in penalty minutes during the 1946-47 season gathering 110 to Toronto's Gus Mortson. Before retiring after the 1951 season, he played for St. Louis in the American League and Minneapolis and St. Paul in the United States League. During World War II Mariucci also played for the Coast Guard team in the Eastern Amateur League.
Returning to his alma mater as varsity hockey coach in 1952, Mariucci piloted the Gophers through the end of the 1966 season. Long a champion of the American player, he stoutly maintained that the American boys were as good as his Canadian counterpart if given the opportunity. In accordance with his philosophy, his teams at Minnesota were almost exclusively American in make-up. His most memorable Gopher team was the 1954 squad which went all the way to the NCAA finals before bowing to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 5-4, in overtime.
Mariucci later served as Special Assistant to Lou Nanne, the General Manager of the Minnesota North Stars, where his duties ranged from coaching to scouting. He worked tirelessly throughout his life to advance the sport of hockey in the Midwest, and did more to promote the game than arguably anyone. In 1987, the hockey half of Williams Arena was renamed as Mariucci Arena in his honor. A legend, a character, an infamous brawler, and a true gentleman, Maroosh will always remain immortalized as the "Godfather of Minnesota hockey.