Hockey World Blog

U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2014 Announced

Located in Eveleth, Minnesota, the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame announced their 2014 Hall of Fame class. This year’s class will feature four big influences of hockey in the United States in their own way.

Leading the class is three-time Olympian and three-time Stanley Cup champion Brian Rafalski. His storied career took him from the University of Wisconsin and Europe before signing with the New Jersey Devils in 1999. His 11-year career with New Jersey and Detroit ended in 2011 when injuries became too much to overcome at the age of 37. He tried a brief comeback this year at age 40 in the minor leagues but it lasted only three games. He wore the red, white, and blue at the Olympics in 2002, 2006, and 2010. At the 2010 Olympics, he was one of the best defenseman in the tournament, scoring four goals and eight points and was named to the Men’s Olympic All-Star Team. In the NHL he had the opportunity to play with some of the greatest defeseman of this era. In New Jersey he played alongside Scott Stevens, Slava Fetisov, and Scott Neidermayer. When he got to Detroit he was paired alongside the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, and Larry Murphy.

US Hockey Hall

Also inducted  is Jeff Sauer, Rafalski’s former coach at Wisconsin. His NCAA coaching career lasted 31 seasons. He earned 655 wins and took the Badgers to National Championships in 1983 and 1990. Coaching in Madison, Wisc. from 1982-2002, he won two WCHA regular season titles and six WCHA tournament titles. His teams earned 12 NCAA tournament births, advancing to three NCAA Men’s Frozen Fours. Prior to coaching Wisconsin, he coached at Colorado College where he coached for 11 seasons and earned WCHA coach of the year twice. Recently, he was the at the helm of the U.S. Paralympic sled hockey team at the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi. His team won the gold medal, which he calls one of the highlights of his career. “The chemistry on that team I had this past year and winning the gold medal is probably the highlight of my career in relation to what I’ve been able to accomplish with different groups of players,” Sauer said in a statement.

An international standout of her own, Karyn Bye Dietz is being inducted to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame for the second time. The first time was for being a member of the 1998 Olympic team that won the gold medal in 2009. The 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame inductee scored five goals in six games. She tied for the scoring lead that year with eight points. The two-time USA Hockey’s Women’s Player of the Year (1995 and 1998) also represented her country at the 2002 Salt Lake games, winning the silver medal. “It’s incredible how far women’s hockey has come and I think the 1998 Olympics was the springboard for the growth,” Dietz said. “I saw a dramatic increase in girls playing the sport after the ’98 Games and it was fun to see. There’s part of me that feels it’s plateaued a little bit, but you still see a lot of incredible talent out there.”

Lou Vairo is no stranger to prestigious awards. The former coach and current director of special projects for USA Hockey was awarded the Lester Patrick Award in March 2000 and was twice honored in 1994 for his lifetime commitment to hockey. He received both the John “Snooks” Kelley Founders Award from the American Hockey Coaches Association, and the Walter Yaciuk Award from USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program for his achievements to hockey. Vairo served as head coach of the U.S. Olympic team at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics and was an assistant coach for the silver medal-winning U.S. team at the 2002 games.

The 42nd U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction dinner and ceremony will be held in Minnesota on Dec. 4 at a site to be announced.

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