Five All-Time Greats
by Evan D. Schaefer/CHN Reporter
Thousands of players lace up their skates for college hockey teams across the nation, willing to do whatever it takes to help their club win each and every game. Players overflowing with skill, tenacity, and drive don’t come along that often, and only a few of those that do are able to transcend the game and leave a special—and lasting—mark on the sport.
Some names from the last two decades may deserve consideration on such a list — the single-year heroics of Paul Kariya and Brett Hull come to mind. But nowadays, such a player would leave school, more than likely, before four years are up.
So here are, among those players from decades ago, who you may no longer remember, that are five of the top players ever to play college hockey, along with a brief description of why they deserve to be on this list. The criteria includes their all-time stats, the legacies they left, and most importantly, their teams’ success, because winning isn’t everything—it’s the only thing.
Now keep in mind, this list isn’t meant to end the debate of who truly is the best college player to ever play the game. It’s meant as a guide to help you, the fans of college hockey, in your own arguments on the subject.
John Mayasich-Minnesota, 1952-55
Hockey Hall-of-Famer John Mariucci once stated that “John [Mayasich] brought college hockey to a new plateau. He was the Wayne Gretzky of his time.” That he was, as Mayasich tallied 144 goals and 154 assists in 111 games with the Golden Gophers. Mayasich, whose No. 8 was retired by the University of Minnesota, is the school’s all-time leader in pretty much every big category (besides assists—he’s third), but doesn’t make this list for his stats as much as his legacy. He was the first player to ever use the slapshot in a game, a feat that makes him one of the most important players to ever lace up skates.
Frank Chiarelli-RPI, 1951-55
Chiarelli, a forward from Ottawa, had quite possibly the best single season in NCAA hockey history in 1952, when he scored 55 goals with 24 assists in only 18 games. His 3.06 goals per game that year is the best ever, as is his career 1.94 goals per game (155 in 80 games). Chiarelli led the Engineers in points three times during his illustrious career, despite playing on one of the best teams in all of college hockey. RPI went to the Frozen Four in 1953, and won it all the next season, 1954, when Chiarelli was named to the NCAA All-Tournament First Team. During his time at RPI, the Engineers posted a .705 winning percentage, which is all that really matters.
Mike Zuke- Michigan Tech, 1972-76
Zuke, a 6-foot center from Sault Saint Marie, Ontario, is third on the NCAA’s all-time list in total points with 310. He increased his scoring numbers each year of his career at Michigan Tech, culminating with an outstanding 47-57-104 line during his senior year in 1975-76. What really sets Zuke apart, though, is his play late in games, and on the game’s biggest stage. He has the second most game-winning-goals in NCAA history, having netted 21 in his illustrious career, and helped lead the Huskies to a 6-1 thrashing of Minnesota in the 1975 National Championship.
Dave Rost-Army, 1973-77
Dave Rost has to be on the list simply because of the sheer ridiculousness of his numbers. In 114 career games played, Rost tallied 226 assists, leaps and bounds ahead of Wayne Gagne, who is second on the all-time list with 199 (in 48 more games). In fact, his career 2.89 points per game puts him eighth all-time despite having played at least 28 more games than anyone else ahead of him on the list. Rost had no problem putting the puck in the net himself either. He scored 104 goals for Army during his career, and has the most points of anyone ever to play college hockey (330). (Note: Phil Latreille had 346 points - and 250 goals - for Middlebury from 1957-61. Middlebury is a D-III school now, but there was no Division distinction in those days.)
Ken Dryden-Cornell, 1966-69
Dryden and former Michigan State goalie Ryan Miller had very similar numbers in their college hockey careers. Miller was slightly ahead of Dryden in goals against average (1.59 to 1.54), and save percentage (.941 to .939), but Dryden makes the cut because when he was between the pipes for the Big Red, they were damn near impossible to beat. Dryden compiled an astonishing 76-4-1 record in his three plus seasons, and was the winning goaltender in the 1967 NCAA Championship game, a 4-1 win over Boston University. His teams owned win streaks of 23 games (1967-68) and 25 games (1968-69). Dryden also owns the second best single-season winning pecentage of all-time, .981 (26-0-1), compiled during that run to the NCAA title in 1967. That combination of spectacular stats, success, and legacy put Dryden squarely at the top of this list.