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Talafous inducted into Wisconsin athletics hall of fame

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Dean Talafous has always had a good resume.

That said, it just got a whole lot nicer.

On Friday night, Talafous was inducted into the University of Wisconsin Athletics Hall of Fame during festivities in Madison. Talafous played at Wisconsin from 1972 to 1974.

He's just one of 13 hockey players to have been inducted into the school's athletics hall of fame.

"It's a real honor," he said.

Talafous moved to Hastings when he was 9. He took up hockey at that point, and never looked back.

"I didn't have dinner once with my family from the day I started skating," he said. "I was always at the rink. They never required me to be home -- I was gone at the rink with their support."

While his father Dale passed away five years ago, his mother Virginia, who still lives in Hastings, was able to attend the induction ceremonies over the weekend. Many members of his family were also able to attend.

"The family was down there to share in the event, and it was pretty special," he said.

Throughout the weekend, the accomplishments of Talafous were repeated, and the list was always a long one. He helped the Badgers win a national title in 1972, scoring three huge goals in the final two games of the tournament on his way to winning the tournament's MVP honors. He scored the tying goal with five seconds to play in regulation during the semifinal game, then notched the game-winner in overtime. In the NCAA title game against Denver, he had the game-winner.

To this day, Talafous is still recognized by Wisconsin hockey fans. While on a motorcycle trip in Bayfield, Wis., a hotel owner and a member of his staff recognized Talafous.

"Word for word, they could tell you what was on the radio," Talafous said. "They could do the play-by-play of the winning goals, 40 years later."

Talafous then went on to play in the NHL for eight seasons, scoring 104 career goals and recording 154 assists in 497 games.

Talafous said he got a call from Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez a few months ago, and it was Alvarez who delivered the good news.

"You're going to be one of the inductees in 2013. How do you feel?" Alvarez said.

"I feel like I did in '71 when you offered me a scholarship," Talafous told him. "I feel like a little kid. I get goosebumps."

That wasn't the only time Talafous said he got goosebumps. All weekend long, as festivities kept getting larger in scale, they kept coming back.

"It was just one of those weekends," he said. "You had goosebumps for two straight days. It was really special. It was even more special that my family could be there to share in it."

The induction was Friday night in front of Camp Randall Stadium. Talafous got to see a plaque commemorating his accomplishments permanently installed on the brick wall outside the stadium.

On Saturday, the festivities continued as Talafous and the other inductees were honored during halftime of the Wisconsin football game.

"It really changed my life, going to Madison," he said. "Playing for the Badgers, winning a national championship and getting drafted, then having a career and going into coaching -- much of that was because of the years in Madison."

While at Madison, Talafous played for legendary hockey coach Bob Johnson. Talafous soaked up everything he could from Johnson.

"He was so positive," Talafous said. "He was really big on improving his individual players. He felt like that was the key to winning a national championship. Through that developmental-type philosophy, a tall skinny kid from Hastings got a little stronger, a little faster and a little smarter."

Talafous implemented a similar coaching style after he retired from the NHL. He started coaching as an assistant at the University of Minnesota. He was the head coach at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls from 1989 to 1996 and won a national championship in 1995. Later, he coached for five seasons at the University of Alaska-Anchorage.

He moved to Hudson, Wis., and opened Total Hockey there, a training academy for youth players. He sold that business a few years ago and it is now operated by his son, Pete.

Talafous said he tried retirement for a few years, but it wasn't for him.

He soon took a job mowing fairways for a golf course and this winter will get back into coaching as an assistant on the East Ridge girls hockey team.

"I'm starting to slowly get back into doing some productive things, instead of just being retired," he said. "You can only eat so healthy and work out so often and have so many cups of coffee. I think I want to stay involved in hockey."

Hockey in Hastings

While his parents were the biggest influences on his life, Talafous said that positive influences didn't end there. He thanked all the hockey dads who flooded the rinks and donated their time to shuttle their children around Minnesota to play hockey as much as possible.

"None of this would have happened if I didn't move to Hastings and if I didn't have the benefit of all those dads working so we could play hockey," he said. "A very big thank you goes out to all those dads and coaches in Hastings who played a big part in my life."

In high school, Talafous helped the Raiders to their first state tournament experience in 1971. He remembers those days fondly, too, especially his coach Don Saatzer.

"Don (Saatzer) had a very strong influence on me, developing me to the point where I could receive a scholarship," he said. "He knew what it took to win and what it took to be successful as an athlete. He was old school -- he was tough and he was determined. A lot of that rubbed off on me."

He also mentioned assistant coach Don Sagissor and said he appreciated the work Sagissor did as well.