Former Wisconsin hockey coach Jeff Sauer dies – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MADISON â Jeff Sauer, who embraced the challenge of replacing legendary menâs hockey coach Bob Johnson at the University of Wisconsin in 1982 and went on to win two NCAA titles in 20 seasons, died Thursday of pancreatic cancer.
Sauer, a native of Fort Atkinson, was 73.
âItâs a tough day, certainly for the people that were close to Jeff and knew him,â UW womenâs hockey coach Mark Johnson, who was with his team in Bemidji, Minn., said in a release. âHe was a great man and a tremendous ambassador for the game of hockey.â
Sauer served as an assistant at UW under Bob Johnson from 1966-â71. He was the head coach at Colorado College from 1971-â82 but returned to Madison to take over the UW program after Johnson left to coach the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League.
Sauer in his first season led UW to the 1983 national title, UWâs fourth overall, and guided the Badgers to the title in 1990. He compiled an overall record of 489-306-46 from 1982-2002 at UW.
âOur entire athletic department family is saddened to hear of the passing of Coach Sauer,â UW athletic directorÂ Barry Alvarez said in a release. âJeff 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.”
Mark Johnson, who led the UW menâs team as a player to the 1977 national title, was an assistant under Sauer from 1996-2002.
âHeâs going to be missed for a lot of reasons,â said Johnson, in his 14th season as UWâs womenâs coach. âHe was great for the sport; he ran a great program at Colorado College for 11 years and he took over for my dad here in the early 1980s and did an outstanding job for 20 years. …
âJeff was also instrumental in the foundation of our women’s hockey program as he was a great friend to the program, especially in the early years. He has impacted my life in a lot of different ways, and I wantÂ to make sure people are praying and their thoughts are with (wife) Jamie and the rest of his family. I’m sure they are stunned by his passing.”
âSauer’s 489 victories are the most for a UW coach in any sport.
In addition to leading UW to NCAA titles in 1983 and â90, he won WCHA regular-season titles in 1990 and 2000 and WCHA playoff crowns in ’83, ’88, ’90, ’95 and ’98.
Sauer was inducted into the Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame on Sept. 16, 2016.
Tony Granato, in his first season as UWâs menâs hockey coach, played under Sauer from 1983-â87.
âCoach Sauer’s record speaks for itself, but he’s just done so much besides coaching hockey,” Granato, in East Lansing, Mich., preparing to face Michigan State, said in a release. âThat is the part I will miss most about him. He was about caring for people and sharing.â
Sauerâs love for hockey continued after he stepped down as UWâs head coach in 2002 and he was willing to teach the game to all comers.
In 2011, Sauer was named head coach of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. In his six seasons as coach, he won titles in seven major international events.
A member of USA Hockeyâs International Council and Disabled Hockey Committee, Sauer was president of the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association. He helped select the last six U.S. Deaflympic Ice Hockey Teams while leading the team as head coach in the last four Winter Deaflympics.
âI watched him volunteer endlessly for both the U.S. Sled Hockey and hearing-impaired teams,â Granato said in a release, âand watched him do anything that was asked of him for any special situation that was needed.
âHe 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.â
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