Illinois Youth Hockey Community Mourning The Loss of Coach Joe Olson

Joe Olson came from a hockey family. And he created a new one in Bloomington-Normal.

Olson, an Illinois Hockey Hall of Famer who is largely seen as the father of today’s growing Bloomington-Normal ice hockey community, died Friday, about a week after suffering a heart attack, the Pepsi Ice Center announced on Facebook. Joe Olson was one of the first hires when the Pepsi Ice Center opened in 2006. He had been coaching hockey in Peoria.

Olson was one of the first hires when the Pepsi Ice Center opened in 2006; the community hadn’t had an ice rink in 22 years. At first, there were about 100 kids in the “house” (non-travel) hockey program, and four teams in the adult league. Now there are 300+ kids playing house hockey, as many as 16 adult teams, plus a travel hockey organization, a girls hockey program, and a sled hockey team for players with disabilities. Bloomington has the largest amount of 8-and-under players in Central Illinois.

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