Dick Roberts, a Warroad hockey legend as a player and a coach, died on Tuesday at 93. Roberts grew up playing hockey on the outdoor rinks in Warroad in the early 1940s, then was a Gophers defenseman for three varsity seasons starting in the winter of 1945-46.
Later, Roberts coached youth hockey in his hometown, leading the Warroad Bantams to a state title in 1964, and then spent a decade as the coach of the high school.
Roberts was behind the bench when the Warriors played Edina in the famed state championship game of 1969. It was the first year the one-class tournament had moved from St. Paul to Met Center in Bloomington, the building was jammed and Edina pulled out a 5-4 overtime victory after Warroad superstar Henry Boucha was smacked into the boards and had to leave the game.
Roberts was even more notorious as the toughest hombre on the senior Warroad Lakers – known as “Dirty Dick’’ in northern Minnesota and the Canadian cities where the Lakers often played.
Two decades ago, a Star Tribune reporter walked into a Warroad bank with Roberts and John Henneman, the bank president, shouted, “There’s Dirty Dick Roberts,’’ and then proceeded to tell this story:
“We were playing the [Roseau] Cloverleafs one night. A guy cross-checked Dick in the choppers. He looked at the guy, spit a half-dozen teeth at him, then chased him down and kicked the daylights out of him.”
Roberts and his wife Marty, a Roseau woman, were married for 72 years. Dick is survived by Marty, and a hockey playing family that includes granddaughter Maureen Greiner, the women’s coach at Concordia College, and grandson Jay Hardwick, the current boys coach at Warroad High School -- as well as great granddaughter Abbey Hardwick, a member of this winter’s unbeaten Warroad girls’ team.