U.S. Hall inducts four

Karyn Bye Dietz, Brian Rafalski, Jeff Sauer, Lou Vairo

06.08.2014
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Karyn Bye Dietz (left), who was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2011, will also be enshrined in the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. Photo: Jukka Rautio / HHOF-IIHF Images

COLORADO SPRINGS, USA – Karyn Bye Dietz, Brian Rafalski, Jeff Sauer and Lou Vairo will be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame as the Class of 2014, it was announced by USA Hockey.

“The class of 2014 is an extraordinary collection of individuals that have had an immensely positive impact on hockey in our country,” said Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey. “Cumulatively, they have been involved at every level of hockey and this group is a big reason why our sport has advanced to the point it has in the United States."

The Class of 2014 will be formally enshrined on 4th December in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Karyn Bye Dietz, a pioneer in women's hockey in the United States, has had a significant impact on the sport's continued growth and evolution. She was one of the world's elite forwards during her time on the U.S. Women’s National Team from 1992-2002. During that span she represented the United States at both the 1998 and 2002 Olympic Winter Games. An alternate captain in 1998, Bye Dietz helped Team USA win the first gold medal ever awarded in women’s ice hockey at the Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. In that tournament she led the U.S. with five goals in six games, while her eight points were tied for first on the team. At the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, Bye Dietz registered three goals and six points in a silver-medal showing in Salt Lake City, Utah. She participated in six International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships (1992, ‘94, ‘97, ‘99, 2000, ‘01), receiving a silver medal at each tournament. She also skated in the 1995 and 1996 IIHF Pacific Women’s Hockey Championships, at which the U.S. placed second both years. Bye Dietz accumulated 84 points (47-37) over 51 career games in a Team USA jersey. In 1995 and 1998, she was honored as USA Hockey’s Bob Allen Women’s Player of the Year. In 2011, Bye Dietz became just the fifth woman to be inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame. A native of River Falls, Wisconsin, who currently resides in Hudson, Wisconsin, Bye Dietz played college hockey at the University of New Hampshire from 1989-93, racking up 164 points in 87 games. She was enshrined into the UNH Hall of Fame in 1998.

Brian Rafalski played 15 seasons of professional hockey, including 11 in the National Hockey League. The defenseman, who grew up in the Detroit suburbs, began his NHL career in 1999-2000, helping the New Jersey Devils win the Stanley Cup and receiving NHL All-Rookie Team honors. Three years later in 2003, he hoisted the Stanley Cup yet again with the Devils. In 541 regular-season games with New Jersey, Rafalski racked up 44 goals and 311 points. He was selected to play in the 2004 and 2007 NHL All-Star Games. He spent the last four seasons of his career with the Detroit Red Wings, helping the team win the Stanley Cup in 2008. He recorded 204 points (35-169) over 292 regular-season contests for the Red Wings. Overall, the 515 career points he accumulated in the NHL are 10th-best among American defensemen in league history. Rafalski began his professional career playing from 1995-99 in Sweden and Finland. Internationally, Rafalski was a member of the U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Olympic Winter Games. He helped Team USA earn the silver medal at the 2002 and 2010 Olympics. At the 2010 Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Rafalski was named to the media all-star team and was honored as the tournament's best defenseman by the directorate after tallying four goals and eight points in six games. Across three Olympics, he tallied five goals and eight assists in 17 games. He also played for the 2004 U.S. World Cup of Hockey Team, 1995 U.S. Men’s National Team, and 1992 (bronze medal) and 1993 U.S. National Junior Teams. During his four-year career at the University of Wisconsin, Rafalski amassed 20 goals and 98 points in 146 games. As a senior in 1994-95, he received a number of accolades, including American Hockey Coaches Association West All-America First Team, Western Collegiate Hockey Association Defensive Player of the Year and All-WCHA First Team. Rafalski spent two seasons playing junior hockey in the U.S., including one year (1990-91) with the Madison Capitols of the United States Hockey League and the other campaign (1989-90) in the North American Hockey League as a member of the Melvindale Blades.

Jeff Sauer, who grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and now calls Middleton, Wisconsin, home, has spent more than 40 years coaching hockey, and has had nothing but success in his varied endeavors. Sauer’s 31-year NCAA Division I men’s college coaching career featured 655 wins (seventh all-time) and two national championships, both of which came at the University of Wisconsin (1983, 1990). Sauer led Wisconsin to three NCAA Men's Frozen Four appearances, 12 NCAA tournament berths, six Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff titles and two WCHA regular-season crowns in 20 seasons (1982-2002). He also spent 11 years (1971-82) as head coach of the men's ice hockey team at his alma mater, Colorado College, where he was twice named WCHA Coach of the Year (1972, 1975). Throughout his college career, he served as head coach for multiple U.S. squads, including the 1995 U.S. Men’s National Team and U.S. teams that participated in the 1990 Goodwill Games, 1989 Pravda Cup and 1997 Tampere Cup. The 2014-15 season is Sauer’s fourth campaign as head coach of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team. He led the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2012 International Paralympic Committee Ice Sledge Hockey World Championship. Two years later, he was at the helm of the gold-medal winning 2014 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team in Sochi, Russia. Additionally, Sauer is president of the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association. He helped select the last five U.S. Deaflympic Ice Hockey Teams, while leading the team as head coach in the last three Winter Deaflympics, including a gold medal at the 2007 Deaflympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Sauer has also worked on disciplinary panels at several top-level IIHF events during the last few years. Sauer has been 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.

Lou Vairo, who has coached players at every level in the game, has been instrumental in the development of hockey in the United States for parts of the past six decades. In the 1960s, he was a leader in building grassroots programs in New York City. During the 1970s he transitioned to coaching, highlighted by a 1976 national championship while directing the Austin (Minn.) Mavericks of the United States Hockey League. Vairo’s coaching career expanded to USA Hockey in 1979. He served as head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team from 1979-82 and once again in 2003. On five occasions (1983, 2000-03), he was head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team. After contributing as a scout to the gold medal-winning 1980 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team, he served as head coach of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team and was an assistant coach for the 2002 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team that received the silver medal in Salt Lake City, Utah. From 1984-86, Vairo moved to the National Hockey League and was an assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils. He then spent the next six seasons coaching in Holland and Italy, including stints working with both countries national teams. Vairo, USA Hockey’s director of special projects since 1992, was the driving voice in the formation of the Diversity Task Force that began in 1992 to help introduce hockey to inner city and minority children. He was at the forefront of helping develop many of USA Hockey’s most successful programs, including in coaching education and player development. Vairo introduced the United States to European concepts of training and playing in 1972, including methods he learned when studying with legendary Soviet coach Anatoli Tarasov. A long-time member of the IIHF Coaching Committee, Vairo concepted the current IIHF Development Camp that brings together players, coaches, and support staff from all IIHF members each summer in both Europe and Asia to foster the continued growth of the game. He was honored twice in 1994 for his lifetime commitment to hockey, receiving 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. Vairo received the NHL's Lester Patrick Trophy in 2000 and in 2010 was named the recipient of the IIHF’s Paul Loicq Award. In May of 2014, he was inducted into the New York State Hockey Hall of Fame.

– with files from USA Hockey

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