Johnson, Hrkac

Greg Johnson, left, and Tony Hrkac, right, are two of the greatest players in University of North Dakota hockey history.

Over the years, many a Thunder Bay product, or those from around Northwestern Ontario, have played and starred at the University of North Dakota in U.S. collegiate hockey ranks.

The Grand Forks, N.D.-based school sees their record book dotted with names of players from the Lakehead and region, helping their teams achieve tremendous success over the decades.

Back in 1986-87, Tony Hrkac had a season for the ages as he helped lead UND to a national championship. That year, Hrkac also set an NCAA single-season record for points in a campaign, which still stands today, at 116.He also became North Dakota’s first-ever recipient of the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey.

Along with that, he was tabbed Western Collegiate Hockey Association MVP, garnered NCAA Tournament Outstanding Player laurels and was named to the All-Tournament team. You can also add in him as earning a first team All-American and All-WCHA selections as well.

Overall, there was no better skater in North Dakota’s legendary history than the late Greg Johnson. A three-time Hobey Baker finalist, Johnson still holds the school record for career points and assists at 272 and 198 respectively.

Johnson also collected a trio of All-American nods joining Hrkac, Dave Merrifield, Bob Munro, Marc Chorney, David Hoogsteen, Brad Williamson and Taylor Chorney in a group to earn that achievement at least once.

Marc Chorney (118) and Williamson (99) are still both in the Top 10 in offensive production among defencemen in the school’s archives knotted for seventh and 10th.

In their complete tenure, 85 UND players notched 100 or more points in their NCAA careers.

While Johnson paces the pack, others to do so from the area include Hrkac (T-16/170); David Hoogsteen (19th/157); Marc Chorney (T-56/118); Dryden’s Darcy Mitani (64th/112); Merrifield (T-77/104); Bob DePiero (T-77/104) and Kevin Hoogsteen (T-84/101).

Among those to serve as team captain at UND, you have Terry Ogden; Gino Gasparini; Bob Munro; Brian DePiero (2 seasons); Bob DePiero (2 seasons); Marc Chorney; Greg Johnson (2 seasons) and Chris Porter.Those to sport an assistant captains’ ‘A’ on their jersey feature Marc Chorney; Kevin Hoogsteen; David Hoogsteen; Williamson and Taylor Chorney.

Coached for many seasons by Fort Frances native John ‘Gino’ Gasparini, he was a three time WCHA Coach of the Year recipient and had NCAA titles to his credit as well.

Among UND’s Olympians were Bob DePiero who played for Italy in 1984, while a decade later Johnson was part of Canada’s silver-medal-winning squad.

Thunder Bay-born Chris Porter shares the UND mark for career games played at 175.

From the group of locals, Munro, Gasparini, Bill Selman; Guy LaFrance, Marc Chorney, Hrkac and Greg Johnson are all honoured members of the North Dakota Athletic Hall of Fame.

Add in many from the area that earned All-WCHA or NCAA tournament team placings along with winning national championships and a plethora of other conference awards, the contributions made by all those from Thunder Bay and area at North Dakota has been impressive.

Those from the city and region to don the green and white over the decades include Joe Armbruster; William Borlase; David Bragnalo; Julien Bruneta; Marc Chorney; Taylor Chorney; Brian DePiero; Bob DePiero; Mel Donnelly; Michael Furlong; Gino Gasparini; Steven Gasparini; Robert Harris; David Hoogsteen; Kevin Hoogsteen; Tony Hrkac; Corey Johnson; Greg Johnson; Ryan Johnson; Todd Jones; Ron King; Joe Kompon; Guy LaFrance; Robert Law; Dave Merrifield; Les Merrifield; Darcy Mitani; Bob Munro; Terry Ogden; Gerald Patterson; Craig Perry; Bob Peters; Chris Porter; Henry Rupert; Bill Selman; Ab Slivinski; Arnold Steeves; Wilmot Stirrett; Don Stokaluk; Brad Williamson and Murray Wing.

Tom Annelin’s column appears weekly in The Chronicle-Journal. Contact Tom at

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