Tri-County Youth Sports Grant
Tri-County Youth Sports Grant Winners
Mark Olson

Hockey was a sport local fans could watch only if they went to Chicago or St. Louis until BardezBanian founded the Peoria Stars in 1959.

The team played outdoors on the old Lakeview rink until it became the Pekin Stars a few years later and played its home games in the Pekin Arena.

Olson, who had played college hockey at Michigan Tech and is now in that school's Hall of Fame, had joined BardezBanian by this time and the two would spend thousands of hours pushing the sport in the years to come.

Mark Olson
Pete BardezBanian
The two were with the Pekin Stars until 1970, when they formed the Peoria Blades, on the outdoor rink at Logan, in 1971. The Logan "bubble" went up the next year and the Blades, through membership in the Continental League, gave Peoria a solid taste of hockey.

BardezBanian played with the Blades for a few years, then became president while Olson always served as the team's general manager.

And the two gave hockey a boost whenever they could. BardezBanian coached the Bradley University club team for many years and both were instrumental in starting and maintaining youth hockey in Pekin and Peoria.

Both are now retired, Olson from Caterpillar's Mossville plant and BardezBanian from a management position with the City of Peoria.