USA Hockey Magazine

January 2013

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Page 35 of 47

Old Friends In A New Anytime Jeff Sauer and Mike Sertich (standing above) get together, the hockey stories and amusing anecdotes are sure to fly. Game By Jess Myers Coaching Icons Jeff Sauer And Mike Sertich Team Up To Work With Sled Hockey Players M ake a list of everything you can accomplish as a hockey coach and set it next to the resumes of Jeff Sauer and Mike Sertich. It will be quickly evident that there is very little that duo hasn���t achieved behind the benches of dozens of college hockey rinks. Sauer coached for three decades, first at Colorado College then at Wisconsin, winning more than 650 games and a pair of NCAA titles. Sertich coached for more than 20 years, at both Minnesota Duluth and Michigan Tech, producing a trio of Hobey Baker Award winners and three WCHA conference titles. Life-long friends, these coaching legends were also fierce rivals for years, facing each other head to head in college arenas, and competing for many of the same recruits in talent-laden high school and Junior hockey rinks all across the Midwest. 34 January. 2013 Now a decade removed from their college coaching and recruiting days, if you expected both to walk away from the game and fade into retirement, you don���t know Jeff Sauer or Mike Sertich. Sauer has been involved with several USA Hockey initiatives over the years, and surprised nobody when he was named head coach for the U.S. Sled Hockey Team in advance of the upcoming Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Sertich retired from college hockey, but not from hockey, even volunteering to coach a Bantam team outside Duluth for several years. So when Sauer needed coaching help at a recent USA Hockey training camp for the top American sled hockey team, his first call was to northern Minnesota, to an old friend and rival who he knew would be up for the challenge. Sertich had no idea what to expect, USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM traveling to North Carolina to help coach hockey players on sleds. What he discovered was the most amazing experience of his storied career. Like so many people who have been around the program, seeing the on-ice ability of the top American sled hockey players changed his outlook on physical challenges. ���It was the most humbling experience I���ve ever had in hockey,��� Sertich said. ���Seeing these men and what they do renewed my whole feeling about why we play this game.��� Sauer and his top assistant, Guy Gosselin, have assembled an interesting mix of the best Americans in preparation for the World Sledge Hockey Challenge in Calgary, which the U.S. won, and in advance of defending Paralympic gold next year. Roughly three-fourths of that team is back, with a few key additions. And the coaches are working to get the best Photos By Gregg Forwerck

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