Yackel attended the University of Minnesota from 1951 through 1956, achieving stardom as both a defenseman and forward. Minnesota reached the final four of the NCAA Tournament in both 1953 and 1954 with Yackel playing a major role. He was named to the All Tournament Team in 1954 while at the same time being selected to the All American Team.
He also was an Olympian after participating in the 1952 Olympics, scoring 6 goals in 8 games for Team USA. Yackel was a big part of that team which had a surprisingly great tournament. They won the Silver medal, only losing one game to Czechoslovakia. The highlight of that tournament for the Americans might have been the tied game against Canada however.
After graduating from college, Yackel opted to stay in Minnesota and coach high school hockey rather than leave. That only lasted for the 1956-57 season, as he then joined the WHL where he played one season with Saskatoon and St. Paul. A mid season trade returned him to his native Minnesota, but also swapped his NHL rights from the New York Rangers to the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins moved Yackel up to their top farm team in Providence Rhode Island for the next two years, where he played in the AHL, plus his 6 game appearance in the NHL.
In the early '60's Yackel returned to Minnesota and coached and played in what was technically an amateur International League. As a member of the Minneapolis Millers, Yackel achieved great things. In 1960-61 the Millers won the regular season championship as Yackel captured the league scoring championship and first all star team selection at left wing and coach. The following year he had a career high 50 goals and was named to the league first all star team at left wing. In 1962-63 Yackel coached the Millers to the finals before losing to Fort Wayne, but his 100 point season earned him second team all star honors at both left wing and coach.
For nearly 3 decades Yackel ran a very successful summer hockey school in Minnesota, and was active in kids hockey until his death in July, 1991.