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Minneapolis South High goalie Tony Julin, who lost an eye when a shot hit him in the face during practice, returned to the ice seven weeks later with a glass eye and a renewed determination to stop pucks. His greatest difficulty: the high shots. “I still can’t get the angles right. And I don’t always know where the net is,” he said.
A January 2010 interview with Tony follows this report from the Minneapolis Star.
|Tony Julin, January 1972|
JANUARY 2010 UPDATE: Tony Julin, 54, is a software engineer in Chandler, Ariz. He has two grown daughters, a son in eighth grade and a 4-year-old granddaughter. In matter-of-fact tones, he recalls the day he lost his eye in a practice at Met Center more than 38 years ago."We were doing two-on-ones, and I didn’t have my mask on," he says. "A guy took a shot, and it was a low shot I had to kick away. As soon as I turned my head to get up again, there was another shot about 2 inches from my eye."He knows who took the shot – "it was a guy I played hockey with for years" – but he wasn’t angry with the shooter and doesn’t hold a grudge against him.Instead: "I was pissed off at the coach for not supervising and letting two guys shoot at the same time. For a while I was real pissed off."As a goalie who has never stood in front of shooters without a mask on, I had to ask: Where was Tony’s?"We were just doing skating drills, and I just didn’t happen to have my mask on," he says.It wasn’t unknown for a goalie to remove his mask at practice in the early 1970s. Until the 1960s, few high school goalies even used one."Whether or not I had a mask on, it wouldn’t have made a difference," Tony says his doctor told him after seeing the fiberglass mask he had been using. "The shot hit an inch above the orbital bone. The [eye opening of the] mask I had at the time was at the edge of the bone."
What made him decide to get back in the crease?
Tony Julin with his son, Tony."I love playing hockey," he says, using the present tense even though it’s been 20-some years since he has strapped on the pads. "It’s the greatest sport there is. Especially when you’re a goalie. You’re out there all the time, you’re the center of attention. When you make a save, the crowd cheers."His parents backed his decision to return to the ice. "My parents were supportive of whatever I did," he says, adding that he would do the same for his own children.His high school career ended not long after the scrimmage against Hill-Murray. With one eye, he had difficulty tracking the puck and anticipating plays that developed on his blind side."I just couldn’t play," he says. "Maybe I could have hung around and been a part of the team. But I just couldn’t perform at the standard I set for myself. It just wasn’t working out."He did get back on the ice a few years later, playing in bar leagues after graduating from high school. "It was a lot of fun," he says. “We actually made it to the championship in Owatonna one year."He hasn’t played hockey since moving to Arizona in the 1980s. But he stays active. "Right now mostly I do a lot of bicycling,” he says. “In Phoenix there’s a huge mountain park, so I do a lot of hiking. Also, I coach my son’s football team."He says some good came of the accident that cost him his left eye. Not long afterward, hockey associations in Minnesota began requiring all players to wear eye protection. And goalies at every level now must wear standardized masks.