Golden Forward Gone at 81
Since 2002, no Waterloo Black Hawks player has worn #11, in recognition of Paulie Johnson’s contributions as a member of the organization during hockey’s early years in the Cedar Valley.
Johnson, a United States Hockey Hall of Fame honoree, passed away Sunday. He was 81.
Before joining the Black Hawks, Johnson made signature contribution one of the greatest achievements in this 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. Four years later, he would add another six goals to his Olympic tally during the 1964 Games in 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 fulltime 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 league’s top scorers. When the Hawks returned from a one-year hiatus in 1970, Johnson was back as well and remained through the conclusion of the 1972/72 season. In his seven seasons, he was credited with 283 points (152 goals and 131 assists).
Two of his most remarkable Black Hawks performances 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 result 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 – 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 21st, at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in West St. Paul, Minnesota.