John Mayasich reached for a small notebook and drew a simple diagram. There were two lines marking what would be Summit Street in Eveleth, Minn., and two goal mouths, although those were far from each other on opposite sides of a narrow winter street, not on opposite ends.

"We would dig out two goals from the snowbanks along the street, and then would play boot hockey for hours,'' Mayasich said. "[Twin brother] Jimmy and I, we were doing this at 8 or 9 years old, and there were players up through high school.

"We might have 30 players — 15-on-15— some days.''

Mayasich glanced at his diagram and said: "I scored most of my goals as a hockey player on my backhand, and that's where I learned it … boot hockey in Eveleth as a kid. There was no other way to get a shot off in those games on Summit Street.

"Two or three blocks of houses on our street, we had 14 kids, maybe 17, play for what we'd now call Division I schools in college hockey … Michigan, Minnesota, Denver, Colorado College.''

Mayasich was at the dining table that overlooks the six ice sheets at the Chaska Curling Center. The city's Park and Recreation Department opened this facility in December 2015, and the appeal of sliding smooth rocks with handles down the ice has proved to be phenomenal.

Among those drawn here has been Mayasich, Iron Ranger in his soul, but now residing in a senior condo a mile from where he was sitting. The only Gophers men's player ever to have his jersey retired (No. 8 in 1998) acceded to the lobbying from his children and grandchildren to move to the Twin Cities.

He will turn 90 on May 22 and says, "I've enjoyed it so far,'' although he does plan to be back on the Range in the summer to enjoy some time at Esquagama and other lakes in the region.

"I didn't really start curling until I retired in the late '90s and we moved into our summer place,'' Mayasich said. "I'm hooked, though. I don't know what I'd be doing with my time if I didn't have this place.

"I curl with a group of seniors on Monday morning — whoever shows up — and then I'm in a league on Thursday evenings.''

Mayasich might have to miss Thursday's curling, since it will be up against the night session of the Class 2A state hockey quarterfinals.

John's love of that event is well-founded, as he played in four state tournaments — from the 1947-48 seasons through 1950-51. The Eveleth Golden Bears won them all and he scored 36 goals.

He won the first two with John Matchefts ("He was my hero as I was growing up a couple of years behind him''), and the first three with goalie Willard Ikola ("Ikie … nobody knows what a great all-around athlete he was''), and he won the fourth in 1951 by scoring 11 goals vs. Minneapolis Southwest and St. Paul Johnson in the last two games.

"We were 69-0 those four years,'' Mayasich said. "The polio wave hit during one of those years and that cut into the schedule.''

Matchefts and Ikola both went to Michigan, since it offered hockey scholarships. The Gophers weren't doing that.

"They gave me a football scholarship, and the first pair of new skates I ever owned,'' Mayasich said. "Wes Fesler was the football coach. He came into our locker room one day and said, 'Mayasich, I want you to come to football practice.' Mariucci came over and said, 'Fesler, get out of here and don't come back.' ''

John Mariucci, an Eveleth man, of course; the Gophers coach at the time, and "still the first person you have to mention with hockey on the Range, and hockey in Minnesota,'' Mayasich said.

He was a phenomenal Gopher, big and strong, a center or a defenseman, take your pick, and yet the NHL bosses had turned their entire playing rosters over to Canadians.

So, never a look from the NHL?

Mayasich smiled and said: "There's a longtime rumor that Mariucci had a piece of a paper in his jacket pocket for me with an offer from the NHL, but he was coaching the '56 Olympic team, and he wanted me on that team, so it stayed in his pocket.

Shrug. "We won the silver medal in Cortina [Italy] with John in '56 and then the gold medal in '60 in Squaw Valley [Calif.],'' Mayasich said. "Plus, I had been in ROTC and had two years in the Army to serve, and the NHL … it wasn't paying any money then, anyway.''

Mayasich lost his wife, Carol, a high school sweetheart, 13 years ago after a health battle that started with Parkinson's. And he's lost most of his siblings, including his twin, Jim, through the years.

Yet, when he starts talking about his parents, Frank and Mary, who came from Croatia and met in Eveleth, and raising that family on Summit Street … he becomes the luckiest man in Minnesota.

"My dad worked underground in the mines for decades,'' Mayasich said. "He never had a car. He'd walk to work with it still dark most of the year, he'd work 10 hours in the dark, and then he'd walk home in the dark.

"And my mother, she was pregnant with Jimmy and me, and most of the older kids didn't know it. Those big dresses they wore back then … she was just going about her day's work. And then some of oldest kids who had moved, they came back home and said, 'There are two more!' "

There was a small catch in Mayasich's voice and he said: "I know for sure my mom never saw me play a hockey game. The 1960 gold medal game … my brother went over there that morning, and my mom said, 'Johnny must've done something good today, because the phone has been ringing.'

"Some reason, when I remember that, I almost start crying.''