Friday, May 14, 2010

Harold Paulsen: Unknown legend (updated)

When I arrived at work on Friday afternoon, I was handed an obituary and asked if I knew anything about Harold Paulsen. I didn't but upon reading it, I wish I had.

Harold Paulsen died on Tuesday in Mankato. He was 91 years old. He had lived in Mankato since 1962 when he began working as a physical education professor at what was then known as Mankato State College.

Updates with links can be found below.

But Paulsen's legacy dates back more than 20 years earlier when he played hockey at the University of Minnesota. In 1940, two Gophers players had All-American seasons and led the team to the UAA tournament championship, which also served as the national championship. One of those players was John Mariucci, who would go on to become the U's legendary coach and get his name attached to the Gophers' hockey arena.

The other was "Babe" Paulsen.

A year later, Paulsen succeeded Mariucci as team captain. After that, World War II prevented him from playing in the Olympics or the NHL. From there, he went on to coach high school hockey at Roseau and Thief River Falls and then was asked to start the program at Michigan State University. He coached the Spartans for two years, going 6-25 before stepping down. 

An Iron Ranger from Virginia, Paulsen earned his doctorate from the University of Michigan and was the athletic director at Slippery Rock College in Pennsylvania. In 1962, he, his wife, Clara, and their three kids moved to Mankato. In 2001, Paulsen was honored as one of the Gopher hockey program's 50 "Legends on Ice."

Word around Mankato is that Paulsen was quite the handball player, too, and played the game well into his 70s.

You can read more about Paulsen in Saturday's edition of The Free Press. ... Also, read his Free Press obituary here, and some info from U.S. College Hockey Online here and here. PucKato will stay on the lookout for more stories on Paulsen's passing.

(University of Minnesota photo)

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