South St. Paul celebrates hockey program's 75th year
The South St. Paul hockey program celebrated its 75th season this year. Of course, they have plenty to celebrate. They've sent 28 boys teams to the state tournament and the girls have captured four state titles.
"Once a Packer, always a Packer," said 90-year Ron Masanz, a member of the first South St. Paul boys team in the tournament in 1947. "All my teammates are dead. I'm the last survivor of them all that played in the tournament."
Masanz still honors his teammates with a sweater with each of their names on the sleeve.
"We used to have a reunion at the state tournament all the time after we were in it … after about 10 years we had these made. These are the names of the players on the team … and this is the year, 1947."
The Packers have produced legendary players and coaches, like NHL Hall of Famer Phil Housley, Wild goalie Alex Stalock and the late, legendary Doug Woog whose name is now on the hockey arena.
"This is the place where we all grew up and had the rink re-named, which was very special for the family," said Dan Woog, Doug's son and a former Packer player.
After a thrilling overtime victory in the section semi-finals, the Packers fell one game short of reaching their 29th state tournament by losing to Mahtomedi.
But Masanz said even at age 90 he's bursting with pride about South St. Paul Packer hockey.
"I'm proud to be a Packer and I'm proud to be a Marine and I'm proud to be an American citizen," Masanz said, just minutes after he was named to the Packers all-time team in January.