Left : United States goaltender WILLARD IKOLA minding the nets for the University of Michigan.
Right : Canada’s 1956 Olympic goaltender DENIS BRODEUR.
Following the conclusion of the Second World War, the Canadians pretty much had their way with the United States at major international ice hockey events well into the 1950s.
Although the U.S. scrambled a 3-3 draw with Canada at the Oslo Games in 1952, heavy losses such as 12-3 at the St. Moritz Games in 1948 and 16-2 at the 1951 IIHF World Championships in Paris were more indicative of contemporary results for the Americans against their neighbors to the north.
A year prior to the 1956 Winter Olympics, the Untied States had been thrashed 12-1 by Canada, represented by the Penticton Vees, at the annual World Championships in West Germany.
In the second game of the final round-robin at the Games of Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Canadians a.k.a. Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen, as could be expected, had little trouble mounting an assault on the American goal in the Italian Alps.
Holding the fort, however, was WILLARD IKOLA, the two-time NCAA champion at the University of Michigan. The 23-year-old natvie of Edina, Minnesota, turned aside 38 shots to stiffle the nation that had won five of six Winter Olympic ice hockey tournaments to this point. The United States, meanwhile, were gifted a goal by Canuck goaltender DENIS BRODEUR and never looked back on the way to a surprising 4-1 win.
Perhaps on the strength of this performance, it was Ikola who ultimately was tabbed by the International Ice Hockey Federation Directorate as the Best Goalie of the tournament for the silver medal-winning United States squad.
WILLARD IKOLA became a highly successful coach at Edina High School in Minnesota after his playing career. Ikola set the Minnesota state record with 616 wins (against 149 losses with 38 ties) upon retirement in 1991 as Edina HS captured eight state titles under his tutelage.
DENIS BRODEUR is the father of current New Jersey Devils goaltender MARTIN BRODEUR, who is scheduled to make his fourth appearance at the Winter Olympics for Canada next month at the Vancouver Games.