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Brad E. Schlossman / Forum Communications Co., Published January 07 2011

Late Sioux hockey player will finally get his day today

GRAND FORKS – Ralph Engelstad’s retired No. 23 hangs high above the rink named after him.

As of tonight, there will be another retired jersey alongside it.

Terry Casey’s No. 12 – the only other number retired by the University of North Dakota men’s hockey program – will be going to the rafters during a ceremony that precedes a nonconference tilt against Robert Morris University.

Casey’s number was officially retired in 1968, but without his number hanging from the rafters, that fact probably escapes the younger generation of Sioux fans.

Casey’s story is one of greatness and tragedy.

He came to Grand Forks from Great Falls, Mont., in 1962, and tallied 118 points in four seasons.

He was an All-American and captain as a senior.

Upon leaving UND, Casey was on the U.S. National Team, preparing to play in the 1968 Olympic Games. The summer before the Olympics, Casey was killed in a car accident in Montana.

Bob Peters, who coached Casey at UND, remembers the day – and his former captain – well.

“Terry was a very fine individual,” said Peters, who will attend tonight’s ceremony and hockey game. “He was not an appointed captain. The players voted him in. He had strong leadership. I do recall his personality being very enjoyable. He was very quick to smile and he was just a joyful person to be around.”

He wasn’t so joyful for opposing goalies, though.

Casey was a dazzling talent. He nearly won the league’s scoring title as a senior, but Michigan State’s Doug Volmar tallied four points on the last day of the season to edge Casey by one.

“He was better than pretty good,” Peters said of Casey. “He was outstanding. He wasn’t a big player, but he was a marvelous skater. He was very difficult to body check because of his agility. He had a background as a figure skater in his younger days and that was a major part of his game. He was so difficult to make contact with. He was so quick on his feet. He was difficult to catch.”

Peters thinks that Casey would have had a chance to play in the NHL. The league had just expended to 12 teams and Casey was on the protected list of the Detroit Red Wings.

His legacy remains in college, where he practiced with the 1963 national championship team, played on the 1965 Western Collegiate Hockey Association championship team and led the 1965-66 team in scoring.

“Freshmen couldn’t play back then, so he had only three years,” Peters said. “I wonder what the record book would have looked like if he had four years.”

Family, friends, former teammates and coaches are expected to be in The Ralph tonight.

“I think it’s a great time to do it,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said, “and probably much overdue. To officially hang his jersey up in the building and to have his family and a lot of his teammates back, it will be real special. I’m really glad we’re doing it. There’s going to be a great showing of his teammates and family. That tells you how he was thought of as a player, as a teammate and as a friend here.”

Schlossman writes for the Grand Forks Herald