"The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) joins the hockey family in mourning the passing of Jeff Sauer, a legendary coach and ambassador for the game; and, above all, a wonderful person. Quite simply, Coach Sauer had an indelibly positive impact upon everyone whom he met, from players and fellow coaches, to equipment managers and trainers; from sports information directors and media, to administrators and fans. Words cannot express our sorrow at his loss, nor the gratitude for the joy he brought to our lives.
"Coach Sauer's love for hockey and desire to grow the game was evident throughout his life and career. From his playing days at Colorado College, through his coaching career with the Tigers and Wisconsin; and, most recently his extensive involvement with the U.S. National Sled Team and the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association, Jeff embodied the kindness, generosity and heart that makes our sport truly special.
"All who knew Coach Sauer, on and off the ice, are better for the experience. We are blessed that he was – and always will be – part of the WCHA family.
On behalf of the WCHA and all our member institutions, our thoughts, prayers and best wishes are with the entire Sauer family."
Jeff Sauer's association with the WCHA spanned six decades, beginning with his playing career at Colorado College in the 1960s, continuing through 31 years as head coach of the Tigers (1971-82) and Wisconsin (1982-2002), and for the last 14 seasons in various consulting capacities to the Commissioner and Conference Office. During his tenure as head coach, Sauer amassed 665 victories, 10th all-time. The only WCHA head coach with 30 years behind the bench, he is the league's all-time winningest coach. A two-time WCHA Coach of the Year (1972 and 1975), he guided his CC and UW teams to a pair of league regular season titles and six WCHA playoff championships. Sauer coached in 12 NCAA tournaments, advancing to the Frozen Four on three occasions and winning the 1983 and 1990 national championships with Wisconsin.
Sauer first took the helm of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team in 2011 and, through the 2015-16 campaign, guided Team USA to a 47-4-2-12 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record that included reaching the championship game of every major international competition and titles in seven major international competitions, including five straight championships. Jeff was associated with the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association (AHIHA) since 1980, serving as president, while being involved in player development, selection and coaching of the Deaflympic Hockey Teams.
Sauer was inducted into the USA Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014 and into the UW Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. He also collected the Distinguished Achievement Award from USA Hockey in 2000, the John "Snooks" Kelly Founders Award from the American Hockey Coaches Association in 2004 and the Lester Patrick Trophy from the NHL in 2011. Sauer also was 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.
Sauer grew up in St. Paul, Minn. before calling Middleton, Wis. home. He is survived by his wife, Jamie, and children, Chip and Beth.