And Now We Play Short-Handed

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Flashback-11068R

Bob Suter. UW–Madison Archives, 11068-R.

The UW athletics community lost a tenacious teammate when Robert “Bob” Suter ’79 died in early September at age fifty-seven.

Suter, a Madison native, played for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team from 1975 to 1979. He was part of the 1977 NCAA championship team and earned a reputation as a tough defenseman who was highly protective of his fellow Badgers. His teammates nicknamed him “Woody,” because Suter just kept popping back up after hard hits, like a wooden duck that won’t sink in a pond.

In 1980, Suter was selected for the Olympic team. Three months before the games in Lake Placid, New York, he broke his ankle in a game against Canada. But Woody managed to pop up once more, playing in all seven Olympic games, including the “Miracle on Ice” victory against the Soviet Union. Team USA went on to win the gold medal against Finland.

Back home, Suter bounced around the professional hockey scene, but he ultimately retired in 1982, becoming a hockey scout and opening a sporting goods store in Madison. Son Ryan x’04 followed in the senior Suter’s skates, playing for the UW and earning a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He is now a defenseman for the Minnesota Wild.

Suter was also part owner and director of Capitol Ice Arena in Middleton, Wisconsin, where he served as a coach and advocate for youth-hockey programs. He suffered a fatal heart attack while working at the arena.

“It’s a sad day, for not only the community of Madison, but for the hockey community who knew Bob and all of the players who he touched and who he gave an opportunity to play hockey and climb up the ladder,” says Mark Johnson ’80, head coach of the UW women’s hockey team, who was Suter’s teammate at Wisconsin and at the 1980 Olympics.

Published in the Winter 2014 issue

Tags: Athletics, Campus history, hockey

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