Waterloo Hockey Legend Paulie Johnson Dies At 81
When local hockey fans think of Paul "Paulie" Johnson, they'll remember him as one of the best players ever to wear a Waterloo Black Hawks uniform.
The Olympic gold medalist and United States Hockey Hall of Fame honoree passed away on Sunday (July 17, 2016). He was 81.
Since 2002, no Waterloo Black Hawks player has worn No. 11, in recognition of Johnson’s contributions as a member of the organization during hockey’s early years in the Cedar Valley.
Before joining the Black Hawks, Johnson made a signature contribution to one of the greatest achievements in the history of United States hockey. In seven games during the 1960 Olympic Games, the Minnesota native recorded five goals and three assists, helping Team USA to the gold medal at Squaw Valley, Calif. Four years later, he would add another six goals to his Olympic tally during the 1964 Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
Johnson also represented the United States during three additional International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships (1958, 1959, 1961).
After a few periodic appearances for Waterloo, Johnson joined the Black Hawks on a full-time basis in 1965. He was part of three consecutive United States Hockey League championship clubs from 1965-66 through 1967-68 and consistently among the USHL’s top scorers. When the Black Hawks returned from a one-year hiatus in 1970, Johnson was back as well. He remained through the conclusion of the 1972-73 season.
In his seven seasons with Waterloo, Johnson was credited with 283 points (152 goals and 131 assists).
Two of his most remarkable performances with the Black Hawks came one week apart as Waterloo chased the 1965-66 league championship. During a March game against the St. Paul Steers, Johnson recorded an astounding four goals and five assists during an 11-7 victory at McElroy Auditorium. The following Sunday, he contributed four goals on the road against the Marquette Iron Rangers during a come-from-behind 6-5 victory, which clinched a share of the title.
The Black Hawks retired Johnson’s number on April 6, 2002. The late Herb Brooks – a former international teammate and USHL rival who coached Team USA to a gold medal at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. ("Miracle On Ice") – spoke during the ceremony, and later related the following sentiment:
“He was one of the most dynamic hockey players I’ve ever been around. He was one of the top half-dozen American players of his time.”
The United States Hockey Hall of Fame enshrined Johnson in 2001.
A memorial service for Johnson will be held on Thursday (July 21), at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in West St. Paul, Minnesota. Joseph S. Klecatsky and Sons Funeral Homes - West Chapel in West St. Paul is handling the arrangements.
Story Contributor: Tim Harwood - Waterloo Black Hawks Media Relations