Sauer, Rafalski Selected to US Hockey Hall of Fame
CHN Staff Report
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. Jeff Sauer, who won a national championship as coach of Wisconsin, and one of his former players, defenseman Brian Rafalski, were among those selected to this year's United States Hockey Hall of Fame class.
Sauer and Rafalski will be joined by Karen Bye Dietz and Lou Vairo.
“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."
Jeff Sauer, who grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, spent 31 years as a head coach in NCAA Division I, winning two national championships (1983, 1990). His 655 wins is seventh all time. Sauer led the Badgers to 12 NCAA tournament berths and six WCHA postseason championships in 20 seasons. He also spent 11 years (1971-82) as head coach 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, Utah. 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.
Brian Rafalski played 11 in the NHL, beginning with the New Jersey Devils, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2000. Three years later, he helped lead the Devils to another Stanley Cup, before going to the Detroit Red Wings, where he won another championship in 2008. Overall, Rafalski scored 515 career points, which is 10th-best among American defensemen in league history.
Internationally, Rafalski was a member of Team USA at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Olympic Winter Games. He helped Team USA earn the silver medal at the 2002 and 2010 Olympics. At the 2010 Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Rafalski was named to the media all-star team and was honored as the tournament's best defenseman after tallying four goals and eight points in six games. Rafalski played in two World Junior tournaments (1992 and 1993). In four years at Wisconsin, Rafalski had 20 goals and 98 points in 146 games. As a senior in 1994-95, he was WCHA Defensive Player of the Year and All-WCHA First Team.
Karyn Bye Dietz was a forward on the U.S. women's national team from 1992-2002. During that span she represented the United States at both the 1998 and 2002 Olympic Winter Games. An alternate captain in 1998, Bye Dietz helped Team USA win the first gold medal ever awarded in women’s ice hockey at the Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. In that tournament she led the U.S. with five goals in six games, while her eight points were tied for first on the team. Bye Dietz scored 84 points (47-37) in 51 career games for Team USA. In 2011, Bye Dietz became just the fifth woman to be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame. Bye Dietz played college hockey at the University of New Hampshire from 1989-93.
Lou Vairo hasbeen part of USA Hockey for the past six decades, including head coach of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team. In the 1960s, he was a leader in building grassroots programs in New York City. During the 1970s he transitioned to coaching, highlighted by a 1976 national championship while directing the Austin (Minn.) Mavericks of the United States Hockey League. Vairo was head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team from 1979-82 and once again in 2003, and was a scout for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. From 1984-86, Vairo moved to the NHL and was an assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils. He then spent the next six seasons coaching in Holland and Italy, including stints working with both countries national teams. Vairo, USA Hockey’s director of special projects since 1992, was the driving voice in the formation of the Diversity Task Force that began in 1992 to help introduce hockey to inner city and minority children. Vairo received the NHL's Lester Patrick Trophy in 2000.