After playing in high school in Crookston, Minnesota, John Noah played collegiately at the University of North Dakota from 1947 until 1951, making first-team All-America in 1951 as a defenseman. After graduation he played club hockey with the Crookston Pirates and the Warroad Lakers until he made the 1952 Olympic team, his only international appearance. He later coached youth hockey and was responsible for starting many of the youth hockey programs in his hometown of Fargo, North Dakota. He was called the Godfather of hockey in Fargo. Noah was the first All-American hockey player and first Olympian from the University of North Dakota and was inducted into their athletic Hall of Fame in 1976.