September 06, 2016

Marc Behrend

Marc Behrend achieved every Wisconsin hockey playing kid's dream.

He grew up in Madison. Every summer he attended youth hockey camps run legendary University of Wisconsin coach Badger Bob Johnson. His budding relationship with Johnson may have partially led to a scholarship offer at U of W.

Behrend was then able to join Johnson as a Badgers legend.

Behrend played at Wisconsin from 1981 through 1983, winning two NCAA championships in 1981 and 1983. Both years he was named as NCAA championship tournament's Most Valuable Player. He was the first NCAA hockey player to ever achieve that feat.

Behrend, who graduated with a degree in recreations resources management, dedicated the 1983-84 season to playing for the United States national hockey team and at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. There were some high hopes for Team USA heading into those games, thanks in large part to Behrend's goaltending, but they failed to medal.

"The media built up false hopes," Behrend said. "Everybody expected us to finish first, but a miracle like 1980 happens only once in a lifetime."

That would be the last time Behrend would play internationally. He did attend Team USA's 1984 Canada Cup training camp but was the last goalie cut, leaving Tom Barrasso, Chico Resch and John Vanbiesbrouck on the team.

Immediately following the Olympics Behrend joined the Winnipeg Jets, who had drafted him back in 1981. His first game was a 6-5 loss to Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers.

"I don't think I ever beat the Oilers," Behrend said. "But I think I played my best NHL games against them."

Behrend's excellent amateur career did not translate into a long NHL career. Over three seasons he participated in 39 games winning 12. One of those wins was a 3-0 shutout over the Hartford Whalers.

Behrend said he was suffering from burnout by the time he made it to the NHL. He had gone from senior year in college to the Olympics to the NHL all in one season, and found the experience and the pressure a bit overwhelming.

"I was tired of it," says Behrend, who had a high career 4.93 goals-against average. "Over the years I lost the competitive drive you need at that (NHL) level."

Behrend returned home to Madison. After initially trying to join the police force, he ended up working for the city fire department since 1988.

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