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Bulldogs hall of famer Keith 'Huffer' Christiansen hospitalized

Minnesota Duluth's Keith "Huffer" Christiansen, left, and Jim Branch of Minnesota, right, pose for a ceremonial puck drop with UMD provost Raymond Darland during the first game at the DECC on Nov. 19, 1966. News Tribune file photo

Minnesota Duluth hall of famer Keith "Huffer" Christiansen, 74, is in the intensive care unit at St. Luke's hospital in Duluth.

According to journal entries by Christiansen's daughter, Marla Halvorson, the former Bulldogs hockey great has been hospitalized since Saturday due to bacterial pneumonia. Christiansen was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer in August 2017.

Keith "Huffer" Christiansen talks about his 1972 Olympic teammates during his U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame speech in 2005. DNT photoChristiansen, a Duluth resident since 1975 who retired from Kolar Buick, is a native of Fort Frances, Ontario, but he played Minnesota high school hockey at International Falls. He led the Broncos to the state championship in 1962 before becoming a Bulldog.

In the words of former UMD athletic director and WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod, Christiansen carried the UMD men's hockey program into the WCHA during his four seasons with the team from 1963-67. UMD's first WCHA season was in 1965-66.

Christiansen captained the Bulldogs his senior season of 1966-67. In the Bulldogs inaugural game at the DECC on Nov. 19, 1966, he totaled six points in an 8-1 victory over Minnesota. The six points are still a single-game UMD record.

Posting 23 goals, 39 assists and 85 penalty minutes as a senior in 66-67, Christiansen was named the WCHA MVP and an All-American. He finished his Bulldogs career with 75 goals and 121 assists for 196 points. He took 95 penalties for 258 minutes in his 102 career games.

Christiansen, who wore the No. 9, was the first Bulldog to have his number retired on Jan. 30, 1988. He was also charter member of the UMD Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991 and later inducted into the DECC Hall of Fame in 2004 and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005.

Post-UMD, Christiansen won a silver medal with Team USA at the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. He also played two seasons in the World Hockey Association with the Minnesota Fighting Saints.

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

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