Statue unveiled honoring legendary Edina hockey coach Willard Ikola
On one of the most cherished, iconic and winningest weekends in Minnesota high school hockey, a coach was honored.
The dedication for coach Willard Ikola did not happen at the Xcel Energy Center, where the boys' state high school hockey tournament was played, but at Braemar Arena, home of the Edina Hornets.
They call him "Coach Ike," and he'll forever be honored outside the arena with a bigger-than-life-size bronze statue. Dozens of his friends, family, and those in the hockey community were part of the dedication.
"What a pleasure," Ikola said about his career.
"Edina parents, you can't get a better group of people — very supportive. They let the coaches coach, no interference from parents. The kids, you know, I thought the kids in Eveleth were hungry, but these kids were just as hungry as the kids I played high school hockey with," Ikola said.
After a successful hockey career — which included multiple high school state championships in Eveleth, multiple college championships with the University of Michigan and a silver medal with the U.S. National Team — Coach Ike coached the Edina Hornets boys' hockey team from 1958-91 and ended with a 600-140-38 record.
Coach Ike and the Hornets made it to 10 state championships games. They were victorious in eight of them.
"It was a pleasure to coach. I had the best high school coaching job — especially hockey in the state of Minnesota," Ikola said.