Legends: Watters remembered for skills
HOUGHTON — He was referred to as a “coach on the ice” by Michigan Tech hockey coaching legend John MacInnes.
Former teammates remember Tim Watters as a player who could see the whole ice and make adjustments on the fly.
“The smartest hockey player I ever played with,” said teammate Frank Krieber recently. “And he was a leader on and off the ice.”
A British Columbia native, Watters was recruited by MacInnes, who saw his potential as a defenseman.
“With him back there you knew there weren’t going to be many mistakes made,” MacInnes once said. “It gave you a pretty secure feeling.”
Watters said he was impressed with what Tech had to offer when he was recruited.
“They were just coming off winning a NCAA title (in 1975) and they had a great tradition,” he said in a 1998 interview. “And their curriculum was top flight.”
He became a quick fixture on the Huskies blue line. And though the team struggled a bit in his sophomore and junior seasons, he was the leader in the 1980-81 campaign along with Krieber.
“We caught fire in early January and went on a streak,” he said. “A lot of that had to with Kreebs (Krieber) play in the nets.”
Krieber, the former Houghton HIgh standout who walked on at MTU, helped the Huskies win 14 of their last 16 regular season games. He posted a 3.20 goals-against average that season.
Freshman Bill Terry, senior Rick Boehm and junior Ron Zuke were others who made contributions during the run.
That streak continued in the postseason. Tech stormed into the Final Four being held in Duluth.
Wins over defending NCAA champ North Dakota and Michigan were followed by a sweep of Providence College.
But a loss to Minnesota in the semifinals ended the string for Tech.
Watters gained All-American honors — the last player coached by MacInnes to accomplish that feat.
Watters was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings after finishing his collegiate career and went on to have a 14-year career in the National Hockey League. He also played for the Winnipeg Jets
In 2000, he was hired to coach at his alma mater.
The results weren’t good (39-113-7) and Watters was replaced by Mike Sertich.
Then-Tech athletic director Rick Yeo said that Watters was a “pro all the time he was here.”
“Unfortunately, things just didn’t fall into place but we appreciated Tim’s effort,” he said.
Tech was in the midst of a long losing spiral at the time that saw losing records for nearly two decades.
But Tim Watters has always remained as a key figure in the last Final Four appearance by Michigan Tech.