WARROAD, USA – Dan McKinnon, a member of the U.S. Olympic team that won a silver medal at the Cortina d’Ampezzo Olympics, passed away in Warroad, Minnesota, on 6 August at the age of 95.
Cause of death was the result of injuries sustained in a car accident on 29 May when he and other American war veterans were driving to Roseau County, Minnesota to perform honour-guard ceremonies for fallen comrades. McKinnon was the worst hurt in the collision with another van, sustaining a fractured sternum and one vertebra.
McKinnon also represented his country at the 1955 and 1958 World Championship, but there was far more to the man than just his international hockey experience.
Born in tiny Williams, Minnesota, outside Warroad, in 1922, Daniel Duncan McKinnon became a standout player in his teens. He enlisted in the war, but once worldwide peace had been restored, he and friend Cal Marvin were instrumental in the creation of a hockey program at the University of North Dakota. The pair drove to UND to talk to athletic director Red Jarrett about starting a team.
According to Grand Forks Herald sportswriter Brad Elliott Schlossman, the conversation was simple: “If you can get me a team, I can get you a schedule,” Jarrett told the players.
And that’s what happened. The Fighting Sioux and, by extension, the Warroad Lakers, were born. McKinnon was a star with UND for four years, including a win over vaunted Michigan in the team’s second year, a win which put UND’s program on the NCAA map.
After graduating, McKinnon and some hockey-playing friends, including UND legend Ralph Engelstad, made their way to San Bernardino, California, where they played for the local Shamrocks. McKinnon worked in the daytime as a diesel-engine repairman.
McKinnon earned an invitation to the 1955 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in West Germany where the team narrowly missed winning a bronze medal. The following year he was named to the Olympic team for Italy and scored one goal in six games for the American team that won a significant silver medal after beating Canada, Sweden, and Czechoslovakia in the medal round robin.
Although his final IIHF appearance was at the 1958 Worlds in Oslo, a fifth-place finish, McKinnon played semi-pro hockey with the Lakers throughout the 1950s. His career came to a sudden end in the summer of 1958 when he blew off part of his hand in a hunting accident. He remained in Warroad and worked for the Marvin Window Company for the better part of 20 years.
McKinnon was inducted into the UND Sports Hall of Fame in 1982, and a plaque acknowledging his contributions hangs in the arena in North Dakota named after and built by his friend and teammate, Engelstad.