Saint Thomas Academy, founded by Archbishop John Ireland, can trace its beginnings to September 8, 1885, when a group of students gathered at the old Finn Farm on the shores of Lake Mennith in western Saint Paul. Originally called Saint Thomas Aquinas Seminary, young men chose between theology and collegiate preparation.

In 1890, a military program was formed under the name Saint Thomas Seminary Military Battalion. In these early days, the institution was made up of St. Thomas College, St. Paul Seminary, Nazareth Hall Preparatory Seminary, and St. Thomas Military Academy. By 1905, St. Thomas officially became a military school under the direct supervision of the U.S. Army. The school continued under this format until 1922 when the academic department became St. Thomas Military Academy, and a distinction was made between the Academy and the College. It wasn’t until 1965 that the Academy separated from the College, moved to the current location in Mendota Heights, and became Saint Thomas Academy.

Today, Saint Thomas Academy continues in the tradition of being a Catholic, college preparatory, military school offering leadership development for young men. Students are taught by highly motivated teachers, working together to meet individual student needs through academics, co-curricular activities, spiritual awareness, and leadership training.

Saint Thomas Academy can trace its hockey heritage back to the 1940’s in the early days when the school was formerly known as St. Thomas Military Academy. In those days the enrollment at the school was low, and finding hockey players was not an easy task. As one might imagine, the sport was held outdoors and the weather would ultimately determine the course of season play.

Throughout the years, hockey remained a presence at the school even as the transition was made in 1965 from a military academy to the present day Saint Thomas Academy. Early success was achieved when the 1951 team defeated Cretin 5-3, winning what was then the Winter Carnival City Championship and completing the only undefeated season in school history. The school remained a dominant force in hockey throughout the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. In the 1980’s, the school competed in the St. Paul City Conference and won a championship in 1985. As more schools became a part of the Twin Cities metro area, the Cadets were moved to the St. Paul Suburban Conference where first place titles were attained in 1995 and again in 1999.

It wasn’t until 2003 that a group of visionaries gathered to bring an indoor arena to the Saint Thomas Academy campus and transform hockey into an elite program. Today, under the leadership of Bob Slater, Director of Athletics and Activities, and the outstanding coaching staff led by Tom and Greg Vannelli, STA hockey has enjoyed a successful run of section titles and state tournament appearances that includes section title wins in 2005-2008, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018. The hockey program is supported by an incredible staff of coaches, trainers, and teachers, and is considered one of the premier hockey programs in the state.

STA Hockey continues to make winning a top priority, but more importantly is the development of the young men and the humility, pride, and sportsmanship with which they play the game.

Undefeated city championship team of 1951
Undefeated city championship team of 1951