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Hockey coach with roots in Minneapolis Park and Rec dies at 81

Longtime high school hockey coach Jeff Shelstad died on March 6. Shelstad, of Merrifield, Minn., was 81.

Shelstad began his coaching career in the Minneapolis Park and Rec League as a teenager. As a high school senior, Shelstad built a hockey rink for his three younger brothers in the backyard of his family's home in southwest Minneapolis.

After high school, Shelstad played hockey for Augsburg. He started his teaching and high school coaching career in 1965 at Richfield High School, where his first coaching assignments were sophomore hockey and junior high football.

In 1972, Shelstad accepted a teaching job at St. Anthony High School. He was named the coach of the school's first boys hockey team.

After seven years at St. Anthony, he became the coach at Hastings High School. He coached the Raiders to the state tournament in 1985.

Shelstad retired from coaching when he took a yearlong sabbatical from teaching during the 1988-89 school year. In 1995, Shelstad returned to coaching hockey when he became the coach of Hastings' first girls hockey team.

After retiring from teaching in 1999, he moved to Merrifield. He served as the activities director for Pine River-Backus briefly.

Two of Shelstad's brothers, Dixon and Brad, played for the Gophers. Brad, who was the goaltender on Minneapolis Southwest's hockey team that defeated Edina 1-0 in the championship game of the 1970 state tournament, was a goalie for the Gophers from 1971 to 1974. Dixon played for the Gophers in 1971-72.

A service will be held for Jeff Shelstad on May 17 at Crosslake Lutheran Church in Crosslake, Minn.