Tribune notebook: Legendary hockey coach dies

·4 min read

May 24—The hockey world lost one of its most-respected coaches recently when Peter Aus passed away.

Aus was instrumental in getting varsity boys hockey started in Litchfield in the 1970s, then moved on to Willmar, where he led the Cardinals to their last Central Lakes Conference championship in 1987.

"You know, it was an interesting move for him to go from Litchfield and then to Willmar," said his son David Aus. "It was kind of like going from Edina to Minnetonka or going from UND to Minnesota."

Aus died May 9. His son said it was complications from a stroke. He also was dealing with Alzheimer's Disease. He was 79.

"He's the kind of person you don't see too often any more in the coaching world," said David, who coached boys hockey at Blaine and then seven seasons at Brainerd before resigning after the 2020-21 season. "Obviously, hockey isn't the most important thing in life, but iwhat he was able to do through his faith in helping others. "

In Willmar, Aus taught physical education and worked in the STEM program, helping at-risk students continue their education.

On the ice, his 117 victories in 13 seasons at Bethel are the most in the Royals' history.

After guiding Litchfield through its first years, he took over in Willmar in 1985 and led the Cardinals to some of the program's best years. His '86-87 team won the Central Lakes Conference title and included all-conference players David Aus, Matt Dawson, Matt Glaesman and Mike Miller.

"His coaching tree is impressive," David Aus said.

Former players include University of Minnesota women's hockey coach Brad Frost, University of St. Thomas women's hockey coach Joel Johnson and Union College men's hockey coach Josh Hauge, among many others.

His son said he was in it to help his players improve. He really didn't care about anything else like building an impressive resume to move to the next job.

In fact, it was to help grow the sport or any sport he helped coach. He helped his daughter Sonja coach lacrosse for a while and also coached football and golf.

"I'm pretty sure he doesn't know very much about lacrosse," David Aus said.

But, Peter Aus know how to teach and did that well.

He was a 1960 graduate of Murray High School in St. Paul and an alumnus of St. Olaf College.

His coaching and teaching career included stops in Minnetonka, Litchfield, Willmar, Bethel University, Blaine, Mounds View, Roseville and Brainerd.

He was inducted into the Minnesota Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame in 2007 along with his brother Whitey Aus. His Christian faith was important to him. He was active in the Hockey Ministries International Camps, holding camps in St. Cloud, Boston, St. Louis, Maryland, Saskatchewan, Montreal, Alberta, Ontario and Palmer, Alaska.

He's survived by his wife Kathleen and children David Aus, Kristin Hilger and Sonja Hoffman and 10 grandchildren. His funeral was Friday in Mahtomedi.

The West Central Warriors AAU Basketball Club's eighth-grade boys basketball team won an MYAS state title May 7 in Forest Lake.

The Warriors took first in the Gopher State Salme Dunk Breat Cancer Tournament champions.

"It has been a blessing to be around these kids," said head coach Kevin Bronner. "They are extremely coachable and are really good people."

Bronner said the team's success would not have been possible without the help of parents Josh and Alison Mulder, who helped create the team.

Bronner has been a part of the program since the players were in fifth grade.

Team members include six students at Community Christian School in Willmar: Gavin Mulder, Kody Tellefsrud, David Mulder, Sam Mulder, Zephaniah Bonnema and Brady Reinertson.

Also on the squad is Griffin Thompson from New London-Spicer and Jake Ver Steeg and Moses Degroot from Central Minnesota Christian School in Prinsburg.

Coaches are Bronner, Matt Reinertson and Alan Cronen. Team manager is Jack Cronen.

Willmar golfers Joey Wisocki and Kennedy Mara have been named Central Lakes Conference Performers of the Week.

Wisocki was named the boys golfer of the week after shooting a 77 at Alexandria followed by a 75 in Willmar in a pair of CLC meets.

Mara, an eighth-grader, was named the girls golfer of the week after carding an 82 at Fergus Falls.