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It was while growing up in Fort Frances that this exceptional coach and sports builder first learned and developed his hockey skills. A standout on the ice, he made his way to the University of North Dakota in 1964 upon the urging of UND coach Bob Peters. A three-time letterman, his time on the forward line at UND resulted in Western Collegiate Hockey Association championship titles and three trips to the NCAA Division I championships, including runner-up honours in the 1968 national final.

Returning to Grand Forks to pursue his Masters degree his former coach, Bill Selman, offered him a job as his graduate assistant. Becoming Assistant Coach full-time in 1971, he took over as Head Coach in 1978, and built UND into a hockey powerhouse.

As a rookie coach, he led his team to the 1978-79 WCHA title narrowly missing out on the NCAA crown in a hard fought 3-4 final against the Herb Brooks led University of Minnesota Gophers. Repeating as WCHA title holders the following year he led his team to victory against the University of Michigan to claim his first NCAA title. During his sixteen years behind the UND bench, his teams won 4 WCHA championships and competed in 6 NCAA Division I tournaments, bringing home national titles in 1980, 1982 and 1987. Taking on double duty, he also served as Director of Athletics from 1985-90. Not surprisingly a number of his players earned All American honours with over 75 of them being selected in the NHL Entry Draft including such Northwestern Ontario players as Marc Chorney, Greg Johnson and Hobey Baker Award winner Tony Hrkac.

Retiring from UND in 1994 with a coaching record of 392-248-24, he became the Commissioner of the United States Hockey League in 1995, serving as President from 2003-09 and growing the organization into a strong development league, as well as spending time as a Board member of the Junior Council for USA Hockey.

Named the WCHA, State of North Dakota and National Coach of the Year on numerous occasions, he received the 1999 John MacInnes Award from the American Hockey Coaches Association and the 2008 Sioux Award from the University of North Dakota. In 2010 the USHL presented him with their highest award, and renamed it the Gino Gasparini Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his years of service to the game of hockey which he first played years ago in his hometown of Fort Frances.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 27th, 2014

John "Gino" Gasparini

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