Dr. Robert May, a former team dentist for the Minnesota North Stars and a head coach who led the University of North Dakota to its first NCAA championship, has died.
May, who had been suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, died Sunday, the university announced. He was 87 and living in Plymouth at the time.
May coached the Fighting Sioux to a national title in 1958-59, his second season behind the bench. His overall record was 45-17-2 in his two seasons behind UND’s bench and guided the program to the title game both years.
He also played at UND during the 1949-50 and 1950-51 seasons, appearing in 47 games as a defenseman.
May’s contributions as a player and a coach “truly make him a builder of the success, history and tradition of our program,” said current UND head coach Dave Hakstol. “Beyond hockey, he was highly respected in both his career in dentistry, as well as a tremendous family man.”
May entered dental school in 1960 and was the North Stars’ team dentist from 1968 to 1983, according to franchise records. He also invented the first custom-fit mouthpiece for hockey players, the university said.
Before UND, his coaching career included stints leading the Wayzata boys high school team in 1954-1955 and Minneapolis Roosevelt in 1955-1957. In 1994, he started and coached the girls’ squad at Wayzata High School.
Last year, he was among the charter inductees into the Minnesota Girls Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“More than anything, he was a member of UND and carried relationships with many former players and coaches,” Dr. Zach Eakman, May’s grandson, wrote in an e-mail Monday to the school’s athletics office. “My grandpa (‘papa,’ as I call him) wore his championship ring from the day he got it until the day he passed.”
May also was an author, whose books include: “The Hockey Drill Book,” “The Hockey Road: From High School, to College, to Pro,” and “Girls Hockey in Minnesota; Where To From Here?”
May, a retired colonel in the Army, was married for 64 years.