Don Roberts had never played or coached hockey when he was asked to re-start the Gustavus men’s hockey program in 1964. Roberts, who died Sunday at the age of 83, went on to win 532 games, placing him 20th all-time in career college hockey victories in any division.
Roberts died after battling degenerative heart disease. A private family service will be held this week, and a public service celebrating his life will be held at Christ Chapel on the Gustavus campus in the near future; details will be announced in the coming days.
Roberts was a standout high school athlete at Appleton and a three-sport athlete at Gustauvs, earning all-conference honors in football. After a stint in the Marines, Roberts returned to Gustavus in 1959 and coached baseball, football and wrestling before being asked to take over the hockey program.
His first team went 1-14, but the Gusties won 12 of the next 13 MIAC championships. Roberts finished with a 532-290-25 career record as Gustavus hockey coach. The school’s ice area is now called the Don Roberts Ice Rink, and in 2015 a bust bearing his likeness was unveiled at the fan entrance to the arena.