New Hockey Endowment Honors Former Coach

L to R: Patricia Tracey, VADM, USN (Ret.), Rick Metzer ‘72, and Rube Bjorkman (men’s hockey coach from 1964–68)Rick Metzer’s life as a “real” hockey player began in the late 1950s, when famed player and coach Rubin (“Rube”) Bjorkman spotted him tending goal in a game near his home in northern Minnesota. Impressed by Metzer’s skills, Bjorkman encouraged the young goalie to try out for the local all-star team, eventually mentoring him through youth league and high school—and all the way to UNH.

A member of the Class of 1970 who shared starting goalie duties for the UNH hockey team from 1966–69, Metzer hung up his skates years ago, but in 2011, he and his wife, Patricia Tracey, established an endowed hockey scholarship fund at UNH in honor of his longtime mentor and coach. He hopes the UNH Wildcat Hockey Alumni Scholarship Fund will support members of the men’s ice hockey team who exhibit the qualities he has always admired in Bjorkman, a two-time ice hockey Olympian: sportsmanship, hard work, loyalty, and humility.

“Rube was absolutely one of the central figures in my life growing up,” Metzer says. “He drove me to and from practices, bought my first pair of goalie skates, and worked with a local doctor to create my first goalie mask. Establishing this fund in his honor only begins to scratch the surface of the generosity he showed toward me.”

Though the new endowment honors Bjorkman, Metzer chose an alumni-focused name as an invitation for other former members of the UNH men’s ice hockey team, who he hopes will contribute to the fund.

“I really wanted to set up something that future hockey alumni would be interested in supporting,” he says. “As an athlete, your sport is a huge part of your college experience. Once you’ve graduated, supporting future players financially is one of the important ways you can still be a part of the team.”

In October, Metzer and Tracey visited campus to formally announce the endowment. They were joined by Bjorkman, who followed his 1964–68 tenure at UNH with a long career at the University of North Dakota before retiring in the Minnesota area where he—and Metzer—grew up. The fund announcement was an opportunity for the two men to reconnect not only with one another but also with more than 50 men’s hockey alumni from the late 1960s and early 1970s, who celebrated their UNH hockey experience as part of a larger reunion event.

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