About the time cameras stopped filming a season in the life of St. Paul Johnson boys’ hockey, senior Ellie Tschida began working on a more lasting tribute to the school and its storied program.
Tschida revealed her senior project -- a new center ice logo at the Governors’ home rink -- on Saturday. The words “Johnson Governors” and “East Side Pride” adorn the outside. In the middle is the school’s logo in maroon with crossed hockey sticks in white. Tschida’s months of dedication was well-received by players and coach Steve “Moose” Younghans.
“It speaks to the tradition of our program and shows how much Johnson hockey means to everyone in the community,” Younghans said.
Alumni representing several decades weighed in, too, offering congratulations on Facebook such as “makes me proud to be a Governor.
The “Dream. State.” documentary series, produced by State of Hockey, featured Johnson hockey in 2019-20 and put a spotlight on players and the community. Tschida decided to take the recognition a bit further.
Tradition is in her blood. Her parents, Joe Tschida (class of 1994) and mother, Leora Antoncich (class of 1993) graduated from Johnson. And Tschida grew up in the community.
“I played baseball growing up with and against boys who are now on the varsity hockey team,” Tschida said. “They were my only friends when I transferred.”
In a bit of irony, Tschida did not start her high school career at Johnson. She transferred there after two years at the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists.
Bringing Tschida’s senior project to life was a family affair. Older sister Lexi Tschida, a graphic design major at Minnesota-Duluth, helped conceptualize the logo. Joe Tschida helped with materials to trace the designs and built stencils in his garage.
Ellie handled the rest. She contacted school principal Micheal Thompson. She worked with the Gustafson-Phalen rink manager, who in turn cleared the project at the city level.
She worked from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays beginning in April, applying the roughly $60 she spent on oil-based paint to the arena floor. Senior projects require 15 hours of work. Tschida estimated she spent about 50 hours. Teachers allowed her to graduate before the project’s completion.
“I was amazed I was able to complete a project this big,” she said. “One of the teachers said this was the biggest project they can remember.”
More than a dozen hockey players, who overwhelmingly voted for the draft back in the spring, were there July 18 to see the final product.
“It’s for the entire team and the youth association,” said Tschida, whose younger brother Jayden Antoncich is entering seventh grade this fall. “The pride for this program and this community means a lot to me."
Banners commemorating Johnson’s four state hockey championships, won from 1947 to 1963, hang in Gustafson-Phalen Arena, the former surname in tribute to Rube Gustafson, coach of those four teams.
Tschida’s logo on the ice beneath adds one more visible reminder of the enduring program’s legacy. And if you look closely, on the large “J” in the logo, you’ll see the artist’s name in cursive writing.