Former Wisconsin men's hockey head coach Jeff Sauer and one of his former players, defenseman Brian Rafalski, will be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame as the Class of 2014, USA Hockey announced Wednesday.
River Falls, Wisconsin, native Karyn Bye Dietz and Lou Vairo are the other two members of the class that will be will be formally enshrined Dec. 4 in Minneapolis/St. Paul. U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductees are chosen on the basis of extraordinary contribution to the sport of hockey in the United States.
"The class of 2014 is an extraordinary collection of individuals that have had an immensely positive impact on hockey in our country," said Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey. "Cumulatively, they have been involved at every level of hockey and this group is a big reason why our sport has advanced to the point it has in the United States."
Sauer and Rafalski join Mark and Bob Johnson, Gary Suter, Mike Richter, Chris Chelios and Bob Suter, who was inducted with the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, as Badgers in the Hall of Fame.
Rafalaski played 15 seasons of professional hockey, including 11 in the NHL. After starting his professional career in Europe, Rafalski joined the New Jersey Devils in 1999-2000 and helped the club win the Stanley Cup. Rafalski and the Devils would go on to win another Stanley Cup three years later in 2003.
A native of Dearborn, Michigan, Rafalski moved closer to home and finished the last four years of his career with the Detroit Red Wings, where he helped lead them to a Stanley Cup in 2008, the third of his illustrious career. Overall, the 515 career points he accumulated in the NHL are 10th-best among American defensemen.
Also a star on the international stage, Rafalaski represented the U.S. at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics. Rafalski helped Team USA earn the silver medal at the 2002 and 2010 Olympics.
At the 2010 Games in Vancouver, British Coumbia, Rafalski was named to the media all-star team and was honored as the tournament's best defenseman by the directorate after tallying four goals and eight points in six games. Across three Olympics, he tallied five goals and eight assists in 17 games.
During his four-year career at Wisconsin, Rafalski amassed 20 goals and 98 points in 146 games. As a senior in 1994-95, he received a number of accolades, including American Hockey Coaches Association West All-America First Team, Western Collegiate Hockey Association Defensive Player of the Year and All-WCHA First Team.
Sauer’s 31-year NCAA Division I men’s college coaching career featured 655 wins (seventh all-time) and two national championships, both of which came at the University of Wisconsin (1983, 1990).
Sauer led Wisconsin to three NCAA Men's Frozen Four appearances, 12 NCAA tournament berths, six Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff titles and two WCHA regular-season crowns in 20 seasons (1982-2002). He also spent 11 years (1971-82) as head coach of the men's ice hockey team at his alma mater, Colorado College, where he was twice named WCHA Coach of the Year (1972, 1975).
Throughout his college career, he served as head coach for multiple U.S. squads, including the 1995 U.S. Men’s National Team and U.S. teams that participated in the 1990 Goodwill Games, 1989 Pravada Cup and 1997 Tampere Cup.
The 2014-15 season is Sauer’s fourth campaign as head coach of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. He led the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2012 International Paralympic Committee Ice Sledge Hockey World Championship. Two years later, he was at the helm of the gold-medal winning 2014 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team in Sochi, Russia.
Additionally, Sauer is president of the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association. He helped select the last five U.S. Deaflympic Ice Hockey Teams, while leading the team as head coach in the last three Winter Deaflympics, including a gold medal at the 2007 Deaflympics in Salt Lake City.
Sauer has been honored with USA Hockey’s Distinguished Achievement Award (2000), the American Hockey Coaches Association’s John "Snooks" Kelly Founders Award (2004) and the NHL’s Lester Patrick Trophy (2011). He has also been inducted into the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame, Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame, the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame and the Colorado College Athletic Hall of Fame.
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