Former ‘Mr. Hockey’ Rangus finds a new sports scenario

CALUMET – He was the first Upper Peninsula prep hockey player to gain the award of “Mr. Hockey” in the state of Michigan.

Bob Rangus achieved that honor as a senior at Calumet High School in 1998 – a season which saw the Copper Kings win a state championship.

After playing two years at Michigan Tech and another at Finlandia University, he ended up playing four seasons in the minor leagues.

But a rare physical condition, called metabolic myopathy, that caused his muscles to cramp up with overexertion eventually ended his hockey aspirations.

Rangus has found another sport to fill that void in golf, a sport he ranked as “second most favorite” sport after hockey.

He currently works as a full-time caddy at the West Palm Beach Golf Course and will do that work at a Cape Cod course this summer.

But more on that aspect of his career later.

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, the Laurium native had all the physical tools to excel in sports.

Although he was the starting quarterback for the Copper Kings for two seasons and led them to their first home playoff game in 1997, Rangus had his focus on hockey.

In the 1997-98 season, he accounted for 33 goals and 40 assists from his center position as coach Jim Crawford’s icers won their fourth state championship.

Northend historian Bob Erkkila said that Rangus was the key performer on that team.

“He had the size and the ability … and a hard shot,” Erkkila noted. “He looked like a legitimate college prospect.”

Crawford said Rangus winning the Mr. Hockey award was well-deserved.

“He (Rangus) was our leader on and off the ice all season,” the CHS skipper said at the time. “He certainly deserves to be recognized with some of the best players we’ve had here.”

The record book show that Rangus ranks 8th on the all-time scoring list at Calumet with 136 points. But Erkkila, for one, feels that might be a little misleading.

“Some of the players on the list, and they were all great ones, played in an era when smaller schools (Lake Linden, Ironwood, L’Anse etc.) were on the schedule four times a season,” he said. “He (Rangus) played a little later when the schedule was tougher.”

His senior season was capped off when he helped the Calumet Wolves to the championship of a Midget AAA tourney held at Dee Stadium.

Calumet defeated a Finnish team, the TuTo B Finns in the title game.

“That whole season seemed like a dream,” Rangus recalled recently. “Those were some really good memories.”

Recruited by MTU after playing two seasons for the Soo Indians of the North American Junior Hockey League, Rangus got off to a promising start for the Huskies.

He scored on his first collegiate shot in a game versus Denver and was named WCHA Rookie of the Week. But after accounting for two goals and two assists in his first year, his playing time fell off the next season.

He transferred to Finlandia University the next year, where he was among the team leaders in scoring. He also had the opportunity to play with his younger brother Brian.

“Having that chance to play with Brian was special,” Rangus said. “He’s a good hockey player and we had a good season.”

Rangus appeared on pace to get a shot at making the National Hockey League when he put together three solid seasons at Knoxville of the SEHL.

He had 11 goals and 10 assists in 30 games in the 2003-04 season. After missing most of the following season because of an injury, he tallied 23 goals and 18 assists in the 2005-06 season and added 25 goals and 11 assists the next year.

But the effects of his medical problem started kicking in after that and he reluctantly accepted the fact that a further pro career wasn’t in the offing.

“I was told that continuing to play hockey could be life-threatening. It was tough to accept because playing in the NHL had always been my ambition.”

The caddying job has also afforded to him to see some of the top PGA stars up close.

“In the pro-am at the Honda Classic (held in the Palm Beach area) I had the chance to play with Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott,” he said. “And a lot of the PGA Tour pros live nearby … Keegan Bradley is right down the road from my place.”

A fine golfer himself with a one handicap, Bob has also worked in some instructional classes in Florida.

He went back to Finlandia and gained his degree in physical therapy.

But he says that hockey will always be in his blood.

“I still play in some recreational leagues down here,” he said. “It’s the sport I love.”