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Wisconsin Hall of Fame men’s hockey coach Jeff Sauer dies at 73

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The all-time Wisconsin men’s hockey wins leader was a fierce advocate for sled and hearing-impaired hockey.

2011 Lester Patrick Awards Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Former hockey coach Jeff Sauer, the all-time Wisconsin men’s hockey wins leader, died on Thursday after a fight with pancreatic cancer. He was 73.

Sauer, a member of both the United States Hockey Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame, coached the Badgers from 1982 to 2002, winning NCAA championships in 1983 and 1990. He is seventh on the all-time wins list with 655, 489 of which came with the cardinal and white.

A longtime advocate for sled and hearing-impaired hockey, Sauer won gold medals coaching the United States Paralympic Sled Hockey Team in 2014 and with the Deaflympic team in Salt Lake City in 2007.

Sauer’s influence on the Wisconsin hockey program cannot be overstated. A player and assistant under legendary Badgers coach Bob Johnson at Colorado College, he coached generations of Wisconsin players including current head coach Tony Granato, associate head coaches Don Granato and Mark Osiecki, and former coach Mike Eaves.

“Our entire athletic department family is saddened to hear of the passing of Coach Sauer,” athletic director Barry Alvarez said in a statement released by the Wisconsin athletic department. “Jeff was a hockey man through and through. He had a passion for the sport and for coaching, and his imprint on the game will be felt forever through the lives he touched. Our hockey programs at Wisconsin benefitted greatly from Jeff’s influence. I want to extend the condolences of Wisconsin Athletics to Jeff’s family, friends, colleagues and former players.”

Sauer is survived by his wife, Jamie, and two children.

Here’s the official release from the Wisconsin athletic department:

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Athletics is saddened to learn that Jeff Sauer, UW’s men’s hockey coach from 1982 to 2002, has passed away at the age of 73.

Sauer led the Badgers to 489 victories, the most victories for a UW coach in any sport. He guided Wisconsin to the 1983 and 1990 NCAA titles. In addition, the Badgers won WCHA regular-season titles in 1990 and 2000 and WCHA playoff crowns in 1983, 1988, 1990, 1995 and 1998.

Sauer was inducted into the Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 16, 2016.

“Our entire athletic department family is saddened to hear of the passing of Coach Sauer,” Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez said. “Jeff was a hockey man through and through. He had a passion for the sport and for coaching, and his imprint on the game will be felt forever through the lives he touched. Our hockey programs at Wisconsin benefitted greatly from Jeff’s influence. I want to extend the condolences of Wisconsin Athletics to Jeff’s family, friends, colleagues and former players.”

“Coach Sauer’s record speaks for itself, but he’s just done so much besides coaching hockey,” UW men’s hockey coach Tony Granato said. “That is the part I will miss most about him. He was about caring for people and sharing. I watched him volunteer endlessly for both the U.S. Sled Hockey and Hearing Impaired teams and watched him do anything that was asked of him for any special situation that was needed.

“He was just a great person and anyone that has had the pleasure of knowing him, playing for him or that was touched by what he gave us was just so lucky to have him as a coach and friend.”

For more information on Coach Sauer, please visit: http://go.wisc.edu/go2bgn.