Sauer – the fifth-winningest coach in college history
– writes a bi-weekly column for Inside College Hockey.com.
"The Dean" was the head coach for 31 years at Colorado
College and Wisconsin, where he won two national titles. Sauer
retired at the end of the 2001-02 season.
Editions of The Dean's List
early departures for the pros
this year's rule changes
listening pleasure, find The
Bud Song on Wisconsin's official site.
of the fun in doing this column is the opportunity to interact
with you, the hockey fan. Please send your questions or comments
you could institute one rule change to improve college hockey,
what would it be?
– A college hockey fan in Duluth, Minn.
a tough one, but the answer would have to be to come up with
something to put the skill back in the game and open it up
for more scoring. We've come up with a point of emphasis to
call penalties for obstruction, but basically that's another
word for interference. We've got to eliminate the clutching
I only get one change, let me say I'd revert back to something
we've experimented with before: let's leave a penalized player
in the box for two minutes and give out two-minute power plays
whether teams score or not. Make a penalty count for more
than it does now and maybe that would discourage the number
of obstruction penalties and increase the scoring in the game.
Dean's List by Jeff Sauer
I was sitting
in Matthews Arena in downtown Boston the other night and I started
getting sentimental. It was before the Wisconsin-Northeastern game
and I stared up into the rafters in that beautiful old rink and
I got thinking those haven't changed since I was playing. Heck,
they haven't changed since 1909 when the place was built. It still
is a great rink, one of my favorites.
And I started
thinking about how the game of college hockey had changed and how
far the buildings had come. Just the night before, right before
the Wisconsin-Boston College game, I had stopped down to visit with
Joe Bertagna, the Hockey East commissioner, and Jerry York, the
BC coach, in Jerry's office. We got talking about how much rinks
have improved over the years.
I played in
the old rink at BC, which was on the same site as the current beautiful
facility. The old place had chicken wire and a lot of character.
I always remember
my first game in Boston with Colorado College. We were losing to
BC, 5-3, and then one of our big defenseman made a big bodycheck
at center ice and turned the whole game around. We won, 7-6, and
I remember going up to Snooks Kelly after the game. The old BC coach
had served with my dad in the Navy, but I was still nervous when
I shook his hand and told him about my father. He said, "Sure
kid, I remember your dad." I was always impressed by him for
Then the next
night we'd go crosstown and play Harvard in the old Boston Arena.
Now you drive
around Boston and they have all sorts of great rinks. I watched
Harvard's women play in a neat rink (and does Katey Stone ever have
a good women's team at Harvard!). BU is building a new rink, BC
has that great Conte Forum and Northeastern has the tie to the past,
in the fixed-up Matthews Arena.
is one of the few old buildings left, though. And it's been hard
to replicate the character and tradition that went with those old
I was thinking
last year on my last go-round in the WCHA, there isn't even a building
left that I played in. Even Duluth, where the DECC is the oldest
building in the league, doesn't have the old Curling Club left from
when I played.
me my favorite rink. I have to admit it's the old Williams Arena,
later named Mariucci Arena. It was always special to play there
and to coach there. But I can tell you stories about the old rinks
at Michigan and Michigan State, the old potato barn in North Dakota
which was nothing more than a Quonset hut, how cold it could get
at Dee Stadium in Michigan Tech and lots of stories about the Broadmoor
World Arena in Colorado Springs, where I coached and played.
I think of what
great college rink the old Ralph Englestad Arena was. It always
had the best ice for a fast-skating game, just like Tech has great
ice at its current place in Houghton.
There is no
question there are some great new buildings for college hockey.
The new Ralph Englestad Arena in Grand Forks is a palace with all
its amenities. Denver and Colorado College have nice rinks. So does
Minnesota and I think the Kohl Center in Madison is a nice building.
But I think
a lot of these new buildings lack the character and charm of the
old places. A lot of the buildings are comfortable, but they come
across as antiseptic.
It's a tough
challenge to retain the tradition and incorporate all the frills
like replay scoreboards, luxury boxes and padded seats. I don't
think fans are as close to the action as they used to be in some
of the new buildings. And from a coach's standpoint, they certainly
aren't as intimidating for the visiting team.
Part of the
reason for that is some of these buildings are dual purpose facilities
that house basketball games and concerts as well as hockey. And
part of it is that there are safety codes and restrictions that
tell you how wide seats and aisles have to be and how steep the
stairways should be. I wouldn't be surprised, in the future, if
there are protective nets just like the National Hockey League mandated
in its buildings this year.
And while it's
nice to look back at the old rinks, it still is amazing to see the
crowds that now come to college games in these new buildings. Both
Wisconsin and North Dakota averaged over 11,000 fans per game last
year. Minnesota regularly fills the new Mariucci at 10,000 per game.
And I'll always feel fortunate to be part of the record crowd of
76,000 that filled Michigan State's football stadium last year for
the outdoor game between Michigan and Michigan State.
game has changed – and grown – but it's still nice to
remember the places it was born in.