Roseau’s fabled Masked Marvel. State tournament founding father Gene Aldrich. The legendary Moose Goheen as referee. Dancing figure skaters, a marching band-on-ice and multi-tiered awards podium the size of a small spaceship.

The recent unearthing one of Minnesota hockey’s great artifacts reveals both the well-known heroes and many previously unseen trappings from the 1946 state tournament, by far the oldest known video capturing action from one of the nation’s most beloved high school events.

“The tape is so primitive, but it is absolutely amazing,” said Kyle Oen, the “Indiana Jones” of Minnesota hockey history who trekked from his home in Monticello to Duluth to investigate what he was told was “an old reel-to-reel of video sitting in a box” he might find interesting.

A routine Ebay transaction involving the purchase of an old photo connected Oen of Vintage Minnesota Hockey with fellow collector Dale Johnson of Duluth, who had purchased the reel-to-tape 15 years ago, then left it sitting untouched in a carboard box ever since.

Olson agreed to allow Oen to have the tape digitized in the Twin Cities, a process that took more than a month. The resulting footage, posted in a YouTube video on Oen’s website, offers a fascinating window into the second state tournament and first sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League.

A three-page typewritten document accompanies the video and provides a scene-by-scene synopsis of the action.

Among the entries:

  • Rochester team leaving the St. Paul Hotel where all teams lived during the tournament.
  • White Bear team coming to the auditorium for their first game. 
  • Roseau team gets a pat on the back from Coach Almquist as game is about to start.
  • Trophies given for 1st and 2nd place winners.

“Just being able to watch the Masked Marvel, the tournament’s first superstar, is incredible,” said Oen, referring to Rube Bjorkman, the goggles-wearing junior who helped lead Roseau to the 1946 championship.

The next oldest video from the state tournament is believed to be from 1955, and footage from the entire 1968 state championship game between Greenway and South St. Paul also was digitized from old reel-to-reel footage.

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