‘To many, he is Gopher hockey:’ Former Minnesota All-American, captain, coach Doug Woog dies at 75

Doug Woog found success behind the Minnesota bench, just as he did skating for the Gophers during his playing days (photo: Minnesota Athletics).

The University of Minnesota lost a legend on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, as former Gopher hockey All-American captain and head coach Doug Woog died.

Woog was 75.

An icon in the state of Minnesota and the sport of hockey, Woog starred on the ice for South St. Paul High School and the University of Minnesota before eventually returning to the school to become the program’s all-time coaching wins leader at the time.

“Coach Woog was one of a kind,” said Minnesota director of athletics Mark Coyle in a statement. “He had a huge heart, an engaging personality and everyone he encountered loved him. From playing to coaching to commenting, his impact on hockey, the Gophers and the state of Minnesota is immeasurable. To many, he is Gopher hockey. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this time.”

“Doug Woog bled Maroon and Gold as both a player and as a coach, and his legacy is one of the greatest in the history of the University of Minnesota,” Gopher coach Bob Motzko added. “Wooger’s dedication and contributions to hockey in the state of Minnesota are immeasurable as are the number of people impacted by his lifetime of work. He will be remembered fondly by all and forgotten by none. We lost a true Minnesota treasure today.”

A native of South St. Paul, Minn., Woog was a first team all-state player in three of his four seasons at South St. Paul High School, leading the Packers to four state tournament appearances. He was also a three-time all-tournament team honoree and was the tournament’s leading scorer in 1962.

Woog’s No. 7 jersey was retired by South St. Paul High School in 2010.

Following high school, Woog was a three-year letter winner at Minnesota from 1964-66 (freshmen were not allowed to play at the time) under the legendary John Mariucci. The forward tallied 101 points (48 goals, 53 assists) in 80 career games for the Gophers. As a junior in 1964-65, Woog led the Gophers in scoring with 26 goals and 47 points, earning First Team All-American and All-WCHA First Team honors. As a senior in 1965-66, he served as captain as was named team most valuable player.

After graduating with honors in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in education (Woog later added a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from St. Thomas), Woog earned a roster spot on the U.S. Men’s National Team, helping the team to a fifth-place finish at the 1967 IIHF Men’s World Championships in Vienna, Austria. Woog was also a candidate for the 1968 U.S. Olympic Team.

His playing days behind him, Woog joined the coaching ranks in 1971 and led the Minnesota Junior Stars (later the St. Paul Vulcans) to two national junior titles before returning to South St. Paul High School in 1977. As head coach of the boys hockey team for six years, Woog led the Packers to two conference titles and advanced to the state tournament four times.

In 1978, Woog was chosen to lead the West Team in the U.S. Olympic Festival, where his squad won gold. At the 1989 Olympic Festival, Woog duplicated the feat by winning the gold medal with his South squad. He was the assistant coach of the 1982 U.S. National Junior Team and then served as an assistant for the 1984 Olympic team that competed in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, as well.

Later in life, Woog coached the 1985 U.S. National Junior Team, served as the assistant coach for the U.S. in the 1987 Canada Cup and served as head coach of the 1989 U.S. Select-17 Team.

Woog returned to the Gophers as head coach in 1985 and led the program for 14 years, including 12 straight NCAA tournament appearances (an NCAA record at the time) and six trips to the NCAA Frozen Four. Behind his coaching, the Gophers also earned four MacNaughton Cups as WCHA regular-season champions and three Broadmoor Trophies as WCHA playoff champions. Woog guided his players to a total of 13 All-American honors while he also coached Robb Stauber (1988) and Brian Bonin (1996) to Hobey Baker Award honors as the nation’s top college hockey player.

The 1990 WCHA Coach of the Year, Woog’s 388 career wins at Minnesota were a program record at the end of his tenure. Woog’s successor, Don Lucia, later surpassed Woog’s wins record with 457 career victories with the Gophers.

After stepping down as head coach, Woog remained close to the program, working with Gopher Sports Properties and serving as on-air talent for FOX Sports North until the end of the 2013-14 season.

Woog was inducted into the University of Minnesota ‘M’ Club Hall of Fame in 2000 and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002. He was awarded the John McInnes Award, which recognizes “great concern for amateur hockey and youth programs,” by the American Hockey Coaches Association in 2008. In March of 2015, Woog was honored by the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Association with the Cliff Thompson Award, given in recognition of outstanding, long-term contributions to the sport of hockey in Minnesota.