Morelli, who scored 1959 national title-winning goal for North Dakota, dies at 84


North Dakota hockey icon Reg Morelli died Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020.

He was 84.

Morelli was a trailblazer for North Dakota hockey, scoring what could be argued as the most significant goal in the school’s history, the game winner for UND’s first national title.

“The North Dakota hockey family was saddened today to hear the passing of former UND hockey’s Reginald Morelli,” UND coach Brad Berry said in a statement. “Reggie was instrumental in building the foundation of North Dakota hockey. He captured UND’s first national championship in 1959, scoring the overtime winner. Reggie played with pride, passion, skill and with an ultra-high compete level, all key characteristics that remain the identity of North Dakota hockey today.

“We will forever remember Reggie Morelli and will continue to hold him in our hearts. Our deepest sympathy goes out to Reggie’s wife, Brenda, and his family at this time. God bless.”

The Morelli name is significant in college hockey as Reg helped steer North Dakota to its first-ever NCAA title in 1959 while son, Matt, also played at UND (1987-91) and grandson, Mason, played his first two collegiate years for former UND head coach Dean Blais in Omaha (2015-19) before embarking on a professional career.

The eldest Morelli scored the overtime game-winning goal in the 1959 NCAA title game, beating Michigan State 4-3 for the school’s first of eight national titles. He was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player that season.

As a senior the following year, he produced a then-school-record 65 points, a mark that stood until 1979. He was an All-American as a senior and All-WCHA that season as well (no team selected in 1959).

He recorded 60 goals and 72 assists in three seasons with the Fighting Sioux (1957-60), leading UND to its first league title in 1958 before the following year’s NCAA championship. He was inducted into the UND Letterwinners Athletics Hall of Fame in 1977.

Morelli remained involved in UND hockey throughout his life and was a key figure in helping Ralph Engelstad’s dream become reality for the premier college hockey venue in the country. Morelli and Engelstad enjoyed a long friendship and Morelli was instrumental in the opening of Ralph Engelstad Arena, including a role overseeing the on-site operation of the facility in its infancy.