Former collegians Bye Dietz, Rafalski, Sauer head up 2014 U.S. Hockey Hall inductees

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.

“The class of 2014 is an extraordinary collection of individuals that have had an immensely positive impact on hockey in our country,” said USA Hockey president Ron DeGregorio in a news release. “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.”

Bye Dietz, a pioneer in women’s hockey in the United States, played college hockey at the University of New Hampshire from 1989-93, racking up 164 points in 87 games, and also played for the U.S. at the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics. In 2011, she became just the fifth woman to be inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame.

A two-time Stanley Cup champion, Rafalski played 11 seasons in the NHL. The defenseman won the Stanley Cup in 2000 with New Jersey and then in 2008 with Detroit. Internationally, Rafalski was a member of the U.S. Olympic team at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics. During his four-year career at Wisconsin, Rafalski posted 20 goals and 98 points in 146 games. As a senior in 1994-95, he earned AHCA West All-America First Team honors, WCHA defensive player of the year and All-WCHA First Team laurels.

Sauer’s 31-year NCAA Division I college coaching career featured 655 wins (seventh all-time) and two national championships, both of which came at Wisconsin (1983, 1990). Sauer led Wisconsin to three Frozen Four appearances, 12 NCAA tournament berths, six WCHA playoff titles and two WCHA regular-season crowns in 20 seasons (1982-2002). He also spent 11 years (1971-82) as head coach at his alma mater, Colorado College, where he was twice named WCHA coach of the year (1972, 1975).

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.

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, and is a former assistant coach with New Jersey.

The class of 2014 will be formally enshrined on Dec. 4 in Minneapolis/St. Paul.