GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The University of North Dakota Athletics Department sends its condolences to the family and friends of UND men's hockey pioneer “Bullet” Ben Cherski, who passed away at his California home on May 19 at the age of 87.
Cherski, originally from Edmonton, Alberta, played center at UND from 1951-55 and earned All-America honors in each of his first three seasons to become the first multi-time honoree in UND men's hockey history. He amassed 131 goals and 188 points in 100 career games and remains the school's career leader in goals and hat tricks (17).
Cherski averaged 1.88 points at UND, second in school history behind only Tony Hrkac (2.02).
“The UND men's hockey program is saddened by the passing of Ben Cherski,” said North Dakota head coach Brad Berry. “We will forever remember him as one of the greatest players to compete for the University of North Dakota. The culture and foundation of our program was shaped and formed by people like Ben Cherski. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Cherski family at this time.”
Cherski led UND in scoring in each of his first three seasons and remains the only player in program history with three seasons of 30-plus goals. In 1953-54, he became the first player in UND history to score 40 goals in a season, a record that stood for 26 years until Doug Smail scored 43 in 1970-80.
Cherski's 12-game goal-scoring streak during the 1951-52 season also remains a school record.
Cherski was inducted into the UND Athletics Letterwinners Hall of Fame in 1978. He was also a recipient of the UND men's Hockey Sioux Legends Award, bestowed upon alumni who have, throughout their lives, demonstrated an unwavering commitment of service to others, high levels of achievement throughout one's chosen career or profession, leadership capability, and loyalty to the program through the generosity of time, talents and resources.
Cherski is survived by his wife of 48 years, Nikki Nestor, and daughter Jo Cherski Fortune & husband, Jeff Fortune and children, Jessica Fortune and Jon David Fortune; son, Jay Cherski; son, Jon Cherski & wife, Melissa and daughter Sawyer; Ron & Lauri Nestor and Grant Nestor and many nieces and nephews.
The family requests that any memorial gifts be sent to University of North Dakota Foundation, 3501 University Ave, Stop 8157 Grand Forks, ND 58202. Please make checks payable to the UND Foundation in Memory of Ben Cherski for men's hockey.
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* - Freshmen were permitted by the NCAA to compete on varsity teams doe to shortages created by the Korean War