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Franciscan University’s Baron Club Dinner to Feature 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team

STEUBENVILLE — Franciscan University of Steubenville’s 53rd annual Baron Club Awards Dinner will honor local sports figures and pay tribute to one of the most magical moments on ice, a moment that allowed us all to believe in miracles the 1980 U.S. Olympic Ice Hockey team’s march to a gold medal.

The dinner takes place at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14 at Franciscan University’s Finnegan Fieldhouse.

A fundraiser for Franciscan’s NCAA D-III athletic teams, the event will feature three members of the “Miracle on Ice” team, plus Phil Bourque, a two-time Stanley Cup champion player with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Together they will recount the improbable victory at the Lake Placid, New York, Winter Olympics, when, at the height of the Cold War, the scrappy underdog American team won a hard-fought, 4-3 semifinal victory over the gold medal-favorite Soviet Union team, which featured some of the top players in the world. The U.S. team went on to beat Finland for the gold medal.

At the dinner, the first Kuzma Community Award will be presented to the Kuzma family. Longtime contributors to Franciscan University and the Steubenville community, Hank Kuzma was the head basketball coach of the then-College of Steubenville 1958 national championship basketball team and devoted much of his later career to the University until his death in 2014, while his wife, Kay, had a long career in education and civic causes. In subsequent years, the award will be given to a family for their exemplary service to Franciscan University and the local community.

Also that evening, three Ohio Valley football coaches will receive the Father Terence Henry, TOR, Baron Club Award.

Paul “Bud” Billiard is an Ohio Valley native and longtime head football coach of the powerhouse Brooke High School teams of the 1980s and 1990s. He led the program to national prominence and won West Virginia state football championships in 1985, 1987, and 1990.

Dan Bjelac is a Steubenville native and Steubenville Catholic Central graduate who coached high school football for more than 30 years. He was the head coach at Columbus Bishop Watterson for 14 years, which included an Ohio High School state championship in 2010.

Marc Bjelac is a Steubenville native and Catholic Central graduate who coached high school football for more than 30 years. His career included successful tenures at both Steubenville Catholic Central and Newton Falls, Ohio, high schools.

Former Steubenville native and ESPN broadcaster John Buccigross returns to his hometown for his sixth stint as master of ceremonies at the Baron Club Awards Dinner. He has been one of America’s top sportscasters for the past 25 years.

Dinner reservations are $65 each, or $100, which includes dinner and Baron Club membership.

Register online at Franciscan.edu/BaronClub, call 740-283-6406, or email CommunityRelations@franciscan.edu.

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