Brad Shelstad seethed while watching Edina hockey players show off their program’s first state championship trophy after an overtime victory in the 1969 final.
The Minneapolis Southwest goaltender sat with teammates, all of them wearing navy blue leather hockey jackets, halfway up the Met Center’s lower bowl. Recalling the scene last week, Shelstad said he remains convinced those Hornets players “looked right at us and shook the trophy at us a little.”
In the decades to come, Shelstad said he “never met an Edina guy that I didn’t like.” But on Feb. 22, 1969, “I tell ya, steam was coming out of my ears.”
A month before, Southwest had defeated Edina 3-1 at a packed Braemar Arena for the Hornets’ only loss of the season. Believing themselves a worthy state champion, the Indians, as they were known then, fell in the consolation final. Several hours later, Shelstad watched Edina become just the second metro-area team, and first from a suburb, to win a state tournament in the event’s first quarter-century.
“But what I didn’t realize is that I would have a chance a year later to do something about it,” Shelstad said.
Revenge, and Southwest's chance at making its own state history, would have to come at the 1970 state tournament. For the first time in three seasons, Edina and Southwest did not play a nonconference game. Located only three miles apart, the schools had met in each of the previous two seasons, with Southwest winning both times.
“The rumor was that Edina opted not to play us that year because we were supposed to be down,” Southwest defenseman John Taft said.
Part of Taft’s point is true. Washburn and Roosevelt were the only Minneapolis teams in the Minneapolis Tribune top-15 preseason rankings. However, it’s also true that the Minneapolis City Conference schedule expanded from 10 to 15 required conference games, leaving fewer opportunities to play outsiders.
“We take a certain amount of pride that we are, and most likely will be, the only Minneapolis team to win it.”
Defeating Edina 50 years ago, players recalled, was not about city underdogs vs. suburban privilege.
“Southwest was a fairly affluent community in Minneapolis,” Shelstad said. “It wasn’t like we were blue-collar, lunch-pail kids.”
Star Edina forward Bruce Carlson said, “I felt like the Southwest neighborhood was an extension of where I grew up in Morningside.”
Both teams entered the 1970 state tournament undefeated and kept winning to set the first all-metro area championship game since 1955. The Minneapolis Star’s headline in Saturday’s afternoon edition: “50th and France — state title crossroad.”
The article by Jim Kaplan mentioned a successful petition by Southwest students to get a pro-Edina banner removed from a gas station on the Edina side of the intersection.
The game, once again at Met Center in Bloomington, exceeded expectations. No goals were scored in regulation, though Carlson failed to get good wood on a fluttering rebound of Bobby Krieger’s shot in the closing seconds.
In overtime, Southwest defenseman Bob Lundeen sent a shot toward the net and the puck deflected off Bill Shaw’s chest past Edina goalie Larry Thayer. Southwest, with Shelstad stopping all 22 shots he faced, handed Edina its first loss since that 3-1 setback at home in January 1969.
Shelstad, along with Southwest teammate Doug Falls and Edina’s Carlson, helped the Gophers win the 1974 NCAA championship. For Shelstad, winning the 1970 state title was a bigger deal. He and Falls would remind Carlson as much.
“They would always needle me about beating us,” Carlson said. “It always smarted to lose that game, and I had to live with it for another four years.”
Carlson later coached his daughter on an Edina girls’ youth hockey team, along with Taft and Thayer. After winning the 1977 NCAA title with Wisconsin and embarking on a six-year professional career, Taft returned to the Twin Cities, grudgingly accepting his wife’s desire to buy a house in Edina.
“I became a ‘cake eater’ that day,” said Taft, whose son, Charlie, won the 2010 Class 2A hockey state title with the Hornets.
It’s hard to believe now, but in 1970, the Minneapolis City Conference boasted 11 hockey teams. Fifty years later, one combined hockey team represents all seven of the city's remaining public high schools.
“We take a certain amount of pride that we are, and most likely will be, the only Minneapolis team to win it,” Shelstad said.