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Ex-JM coach Sack dies

Led Rockets to 1977 state championship

By Bob Brown

brown@postbulletin.com

Gene Sack, who coached Rochester John Marshall to the state hockey championship 25 years ago (1977), lost his battle with cancer.

Sack died Thursday night at a hospital in Mesa, Ariz., where he had undergone surgery the day before. He had been hospitalized for about 10 days. Sack was 75.

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He had his wife, Barb, had retired to Arizona.

Funeral arrangements were being made today.

Sack had battled a form of leukemia for the past several years. He was in a coma for about a month and couldn't attend his induction into the Rochester Quarterbacks Hall of Fame in 2000, but he did recover at that time.

But, according to friend Owen Korsmo of Rochester, who winters in Arizona, Sack wasn't in good health for the last six months.

It's almost 25 years ago to the day that Sack led JM to the state hockey title.

It was JM's first trip to the state tournament in 29 years, and it was the first time a school south of the Twin Cities had ever won a state hockey championship.

Sack, a native of St. Paul, came to Rochester as a Mustangs hockey player in 1950. He was voted the Mustangs most popular player in 1959. After coaching stints in St. Paul, Baudette and Thief River Falls, he became the head hockey coach at JM in 1963 and held that position for 22 years until retiring in 1985.

At JM, Sack's record was 315-141-18, including 10 conference championships. In 32 years of coaching, Sack compiled a 426-207-24 record.

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