Minnesota Hockey Journal

March 2019

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Page 28 of 31

M A R C H 2 0 1 9 | M H J ON L I N E . C O M 29 How so? "First of all, he didn't know hock- ey," Kurvers said. "So he didn't cri- tique hockey for strategy or think- ing or anything. The only thing he ever said, and I can hear it: 'Work.' I heard that all the time, and I knew it was aimed at me. But no more than that. He never yelled at me. In the car it was, 'Good game,' or, 'How do you think you played?'" A Good Athlete So, back to 1970, Kurvers played football and baseball but suddenly wanted to take up hockey. "So, I trailed the neighbor kid, a boy named Arnolds Brooks, down to the outdoor rink for a hockey clinic just to skate," Kurvers said. "Not to play on a team, just to a skating clinic. Then, Jefferson High School opened in 1970, so they started a youth hockey pro- gram. One of the guys picking players—it wasn't a tryout, they were trying to find enough players to play on the team, and one of the guys knew me from baseball. He said, 'He's a good athlete.' So, my first year of hockey, I was the last player to fill out the roster. And I was the only guy on the team that didn't score a goal the whole sea- son. That's my start in hockey." It would get better. During Kurvers' high school career, he earned seven varsity let- ters. As a great baseball player, he was a shortstop his sophomore and junior year, a third baseman and center fielder his senior year. In football, he was the quarterback. The Best Five Days Ever Hockey started to become his true passion, even though he wasn't even the best player in his age group. "My teammate, classmate, grow- ing up playing backyard games was Jay North," Kurvers said, laughing. North, who'd end up going to Harvard, would become the first U.S. high school player ever draft- ed to an NHL team. "So, I didn't grow up with every- body saying, 'He's the next one,'" Kurvers said. "I was one of the guys on my team. It was a good team—the first Jefferson team ever to go to State." In 1978 and 1979, Jefferson lost to Rochester John Marshall in the region finals. In 1980, Jefferson beat Rochester Mayo, who boast- ed Jim and John Johannson, to finally make it. "Jay North had a hat trick in that game, and one of the goals was a 3-on-5 shorthanded," Kurvers said. It was the culmination of 10 years of dreaming about State. As a kid, Kurvers used to go down to the old Met Center in Bloomington to watch the tour- nament. He remembers running around the concourse with his friends. "You could get into the consolation games, but you couldn't get tickets readily for the champi- onship games," he said. "And suddenly, we're playing our region finals in the Met Center, and we'd have 14,000 people at those games. They were big events. But I still remem- ber in junior high getting out of school for half a Kurvers captured the Hobey Baker Award in 1984 after posting 18 goals and 58 assists for the Bulldogs.

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