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.
National Junior Team
Editions of The Dean's List
early departures for the pros
this year's rule changes
rinks, old and new
major junior eligibility
The Dean's favorite things
ahead to the WJC
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
were some of the U.S. players that impressed you?
Brian P. Stoughton, Wis.
a lot of them. Zach Parise of North Dakota was our leading
scorer, and he is as good as advertised. He gets a lot of
attention from the media and handled it well. He's a good
Chris Higgins of Yale. We used him in a lot of critical situations
and he might have been our best player.
had a lot of good players, including Ryan Kesler from Ohio
State. I was impressed with Ryan Shannon of Boston College
and the two kids from Michigan (Dwight Helminen and Eric Nystrom).
Barry Tallackson hadn't scored for Minnesota and he had three
goals for us.
of Colorado College is going to be a big-time player and Ryan
Suter, the defenseman who is going to Wisconsin, really stepped
up when one of our major junior players went down in the first
game. Ryan become an important part of the program. He looked
right at home out there, which is good because he'll be eligible
for the junior team again next year.
Dean's List by Jeff Sauer
SCOTIA – While many of you spent the holidays with family
and friends, I had the chance to take in the IIHF World Junior Championship
as an assistant coach for Team USA. What a unique and unforgettable
way to spend the 12 days of Christmas.
As most of you
know, we came in fourth in the tournament with a 4-1 record in the
preliminary round and suffered 3-2 losses to Canada, the host team,
in the semifinals and Finland in the bronze medal game.
I think from
the coaches to the players, we'd tell you we were disappointed we
didn't win a medal. In 27 years of participating in the tournament,
the U.S. has only had three medals (two bronze and a silver). To
get that close to winning one makes it a letdown right now, but
what an experience.
I think I saw
about 27 games over two weeks and seemed like everyone in hockey
was there – National Hockey League scouts and general managers,
media, agents and the best teenage players in the world. I enjoyed
seeing the different styles of play from the teams of the world
and the talent level was amazing.
It was a thrill
to see future NHL superstars performing at that high level while
playing for their countries in pressure situations.
of these names because you'll be hearing about them in the NHL for
years to come:
Russian kid named Alexander Ovechkin was incredible. His mom was
on the Olympic basketball team. He's a future superstar. And the
Finns had a defenseman, Joni Pitkanen, who is big and strong and
controls the game. He, a forward named Tuomo Ruutu, and Kari Lehtonen,
who was really strong in goal, are guys to watch for. The Czechs
had a great prospect in Jiri Hudler and Canada's goalie, Marc-Andre
Fleury, just stood on his ear the whole tournament. Fleury kept
the kid from Cornell (Dave LeNeveu) on the bench for most of the
As a coach it
was great preparing to play against different styles. It was fun
to work with head coach Lou Vairo and the assistants, Ronnie Rolston
(an assistant at Boston College) and Mike Hastings (head coach of
the USHL's River City Lancers).
styles meant we had to make quite a few adjustments. The only teams
that forechcked us were the Canadian team and the Swiss team. Everyone
else stayed back and played the trap. They basically gave us a third
of the ice to set up and we weren't used to that. Each country was
unique in its system of play. It is fun to coach against different
challenges and adjust. I had a lot of fun getting ready in this
I liked our
team. We had a good bunch of kids who came together right away and
that was the key. I know the coaching staff, and I'm sure the players,
would like to have bronze game back. If we had played well at all
in the first period, we would have beaten the Finns.
But as Lou said,
you have to be ready. This isn't like North Dakota playing Minnesota.
This is playing for your country against other countries. The level
of patriotism was very high, particularly from the Canadians.
I have to give
the Canadian fans a lot of credit. They came to the forefront and
packed the arena. It was a great environment for hockey and a major
factor for the successes Canada had.
And in holding
the tournament here, they set a new standard. They did an excellent
job. Grand Forks is hosting down the road and the bar was raised
by Halifax. They ran a great tournament. The crowds and enthusiasm
were incredible. North Dakota has a lot to live up to for the next
time the tournament is in North America.
The 17 college
guys we had really played well. It renewed my faith once again that
the college game is doing things the right way – that we are
doing a good job preparing players and developing players. The guys
we had on our team played very well. Bob Goepfert, our goaltender
from Providence, stood on his head for two weeks. He was very good.
I'm sure our
guys are tired as they return to their college teams. They played
a lot of hockey against world-class competition in two weeks. But
they will return to the college games as better players.