BIRTHPLACE: Concord, Mass.
BORN: September 26, 1915
DIED: October 4, 2006
TEAMS/ASSOCIATIONS: University of Illinois, University of Michigan, United States Air Force Academy
Vic Heyliger, with his ever present cigar clenched between his teeth, came out of the East to forge an outstanding coaching record at his alma mater, Michigan, as well as at the University of Illinois and the United States Air Force Academy.
The stocky, black-haired coach played high school hockey at Concord and prep school hockey at the Lawrence Academy in Groton, Connecticut. Entering Michigan in 1934, he starred for the Wolverines through in 1937, later earning All-American honors at forward. He also scored a school record 116 goals as well. Following graduation in 1937, Heyliger played for the Chicago Blackhawks in 1938 and 1944 while sandwiching in a coaching stint at Illinois in the intervening years.
With the Blackhawks Heyliger alternated at left wing and center with Johnny Gottselig, who later coached the Chicago team. He attributed his own development as a coach to the teaching of former Blackhawk coaches Bill Stewart and Paul Thompson.
Heyliger's greatest years were at Michigan. Starting with the first NCAA Championships ever staged in 1948, at Colorado Springs, the Wolverines went on to capture six national titles. Dartmouth fell 8-4 that year to be followed by Boston College in 1951, Colorado College in 1952, and Minnesota in 1953. The later victory was particularly noteworthy as the Gophers had defeated the Wolverines in three of the four regular season meetings. The year of 1955 saw Michigan oppose Colorado College in the final and take home a 5-3 victory. Heyliger's sixth and final national title followed the next year with a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory over St. Lawrence, when Michigan's Tom Rendall scored from the face-off.
Among the outstanding American players coached by Heyliger at Michigan were Eveleth, Minn. natives John Matchefts and Willard Ikola, who both helped lead the United States to a silver medal victory in the 1950 Olympics. After a period of retirement Heyliger became coach at the United States Air Force Academy, guiding that relatively new hockey program through its early years before retiring at the close of the 1974 season.