San Francisco was the host city for the Super Bowl in January 1985, even though the game was played at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto. I remember this because of a very witty column produced for the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The hook was the boss had informed me that I would be covering a big sports event on a city on a hill with a famous bridge, and it turned out to be not the Super Bowl, but a hockey series between the Gophers and the UMD Bulldogs in Duluth.

I’m telling you right now, you can’t beat a jokes-on-me column.

Turned out to be a heck of a series: a 6-6 tie Friday and an 8-6 win for the Bulldogs on Saturday. Plus, it was so cold near Gitche Gumee that we went out to start our cars between periods.

This would be Brad Buetow’s last season as Gophers coach. First, athletic director Paul Giel tried to hire Mike Sertich away from UMD, but when he turned it down, Doug Woog got the job.

Sertich had replaced Gus Hendrickson at Duluth for 1982-83 season, at the same time Jeff Sauer moved from Colorado College to Wisconsin to replace Bob Johnson.

Sauer, Sertich and Woog … you could win money in three-card poker with that hand. There wasn’t a hockey final four played without one of those teams from 1983 to 1990.

Consider:

1983: Wisconsin won it, the Gophers lost in the semis and UMD made its first NCAA appearance.

1984: UMD lost in four OTs in the finals to Bowling Green.

1985: UMD lost in three OTs to RPI in the semis.

1986: Gophers lost to Michigan State in semis.

1987-Same as 1986 (with North Dakota as champion).

1988: The Gophers lost to St. Lawrence in semis.

1989: The Gophers lost in overtime to Harvard in the final at the Civic Center.

1990: Sauer won his second title with the Badgers.

Sauer died on Thursday from pancreatic cancer at 73.

“When I was a young coach, Jeff told me, ‘You can tell what kind of a guy a coach is by where he stands in the team picture,’ ” Sertich said. “Jeff stood in the back.”

PATRICK'S PLUS THREE

More notes on the late Jeff Sauer:

• Large pepperoni and a Bud Light. That’s what he ordered at Sammy’s Pizza after every game the Badgers played in Duluth.

• Sauer was the coach of the U.S. sled hockey team and its Paralympics effort, with Sertich as an assistant.

• Sauer joined Stan Mikita in promoting hockey for the deaf. Jeff coached a United States gold medal team in the 2007 Deaflympics.

Read Patrick Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick. E-mail: preusse@startribune.com

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