Doug Woog, whose hockey journey reflected the tight ties the sport creates, left an enduring legacy on and off the ice.
Woog, who died Saturday at the age of 75, was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002 after a remarkable hockey career.
He was a former head coach and All-American hockey player for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. Before that Woog was a star player and eventual head coach for South St. Paul High School. And most profoundly, he was acclaimed as an all-around great person by those who knew the unassuming coach.
While a national championship proved elusive, Woog was a winner with the U. His teams went to 12 NCAA tournaments and six Final Fours during his 14-year run as head coach between 1985-1999.
Throughout his tenure Woog had an overall 388-187-40 record, and his .662 winning percentage was even higher than those of Gopher greats Herb Brooks, the “Miracle on Ice” coach of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, and John Mariucci, whose name is on the Gophers’ arena.
Woog’s name is also on an arena. But fittingly, it’s the community rink in his lifelong residence of South St. Paul, where Woog went from playing on outdoor ice to coaching college hockey’s iconic team.
What made South St. Paul different, Woog told Star Tribune sports columnist Pat Reusse in 2016, was “the connection. You knew everyone; and you cared about one another.”
A lot of people throughout Minnesota connected with and cared about Doug Woog, who will be greatly missed by friends, family, and the “State of Hockey” he embodied.