Jeff Sauer, Two-Time National Champ Coach, Dies at 73
CHN Staff Report
Jeff Sauer, who won 655 NCAA games over a 31-year head coaching career, has passed away at age 73. According to USA Hockey, Sauer had been suffering from pancreatic cancer recently.
Sauer played at Colorado College, graduating in 1965, before embarking on a lengthy head coaching career. It began at his alma mater, where he became head coach in 1971.
In 1982, Sauer took over for the the legendary "Badger Bob" Johnson, and won a national championship in his first season, going 33-10-4. The Badgers won another national title under Sauer in 1990, as the program won a record 36 games, defeating Boston College and Colgate in the Frozen Four at Joe Louis Arena.
Current Wisconsin coach Tony Granato, who played four seasons under Sauer, said, “Coach Sauer’s record speaks for itself, but he’s just done so much besides coaching hockey. 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.”
After 11 NCAA tournament appearances at Wisconsin, Sauer stepped down after the 2001-02 season, replaced by Mike Eaves.
"Very saddened to hear of the passing of Coach Sauer," Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said on Twitter. "He was a friend, great coach and even better person who made our sport that much better."
Said Minnesota coach Don Lucia, "Very sad to hear of Coach Sauer's passing. He was one of the great men of hockey, and we were lucky to have him."
Sauer continued to be an active member in the hockey community, helping out with the WCHA, and coaching the United States' sled hockey team, which won numerous international tournaments under his watch.
Sauer was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.
His 655 wins ranks him 8th all-time in NCAA Division I.
In addition, he was 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.