Marv Leier credits his alma mater with his three greatest loves ? his wife, broadcasting and hockey


Amy Halvorson

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Marv Leier credits his alma mater with his three greatest loves ? his wife, broadcasting and hockey

“The man between the benches,” you may have noticed him broadcasting University of North Dakota hockey games, sporting different, often flamboyant, hockey jerseys at each game.

The man, Marvin (Marv) Leier, truly bleeds green and white for UND and its hockey team. And believe it or not, this hockey super fan had never even laced up a pair of skates before stepping foot on campus as a student back in the late 1970s. Hailing from Linton, a small south-central North Dakota town primarily focused on basketball, wrestling and football, Leier came to UND not knowing much of anything about hockey.

“It took a while to get used to the sport, but it was here, at UND, that I fell in love with hockey,” Leier said.

He attended UND from 1978-82, at a time when UND hockey won two national championships.

“When you’re a part of that kind of atmosphere, it’s hard to not fall in love,” he said.

“At UND, I met a bunch of really cool people in Smith Hall and started going to hockey games,” Leier continued. “Then I became involved in ‘THE FARCE,’ and that was when I became a real hockey fanatic.”

THE FARCE was a group of students who were, perhaps, the most avid UND hockey fans in school history. The name, “THE FARCE,” was spun from the famous Star Wars movie quote, “May the force be with you.” This group of about 30 students attended every home game and made many road trips to UND away games across the Midwest.

“It was all about crazy antics,” Leier said. “Our goal was to have fun and to torture the other team to get under their skin to create the home ice advantage.”

THE FARCE became famous for its matching yellow helmets with sirens with red flashing lights, one of which Leier still has sitting proudly in his office.

They also had a mascot, Kermit the Frog, as they were all Muppets fans. Kermit even had a miniature matching helmet crafted just for him by a couple of the engineering students involved in the group.

“I work in a creative field but those guys were probably some of the most creative people I’ve ever been associated with,” said Leier, who currently serves as the director of broadcasting at UND’s Television Center. “It was crazy fun.”

Leier started working as the director of creative services at the Television Center in 1991, making this his 24th year at UND.

On the side, Leier has been broadcasting UND hockey games as a freelance camera man, from his post between the benches, ever since the new Ralph Engelstad Arena (REA) opened in 2001.

His first game was the Hall of Fame game against the University of Minnesota. Ralph Engelstad also attended and came out on the ice and spoke, a moment forever etched into Leier’s memory.

When Leier first started, his little broadcasting area was enclosed and protected by Plexiglas and he wasn’t very visible to the public. His claim to fame came as a result of alterations that were made to the rink. His protective enclosure was taken down for the “hockey players’ safety,” he said, leaving him unprotected from flying hockey pucks, sticks and whatever else came his way.

So Leier did what any sensible hockey player might do; he “padded up.” With his new padding and visibility to the public, a hockey jersey just made sense to Leier to complete his outfit.

Leier added a helmet to his wardrobe after a few close calls with stray pucks, which where fortunately saved by back-up goalies ? once by former UND goalie Jordan Parise and once by an opposing team’s net minder.

“I’m in the action; almost every game I get hit,” said Leier, whose, so far, been able to avoid serious injuries.

Leier started out with about 15 jerseys in his closet but that number has now grown to around 35, ranging from National Hockey League (NHL) jerseys to his local men’s league jerseys. His criteria for the jerseys he wears is simple; avoid wearing opponents' school colors.

Fans began eventually noticing Leier with his ever-changing jerseys and he’s become somewhat of an icon at games because of it. Complete strangers will now approach Leier and request that he wear their jersey; sometimes they’re brand new and sometimes he’s allowed to keep them.

He’s become so popular that game referees, coaches and even former NHL player and current CBS Sports Network color commentator Dave Starman have requested that Leier wear their old sweaters.

“I never expected that it would become this big of a deal,” Leier said.

To keep things interesting, Leier has even started to do “theme weekends,” such as one that he devoted to Ivy League school jerseys. But Halloween games have always been Leier’s favorites.

“People have so much fun at them just being crazy and having a good time,” he said. At a Halloween game a few years back, Leier glanced up at the Jumbotron and noticed a student fan wearing a hockey jersey, holding a cardboard camera and a helmet like his. The Jumbotron switched back and forth, showing the student and then Leier.

Leier also has been known to join in on the Halloween fun. One year he dressed up as a coach, just to see how the actual coaches would react.

Leier says he’s living his dream by working at the University he loves, doing two of his true passions in life ? television and hockey.

“I’m lucky that I work with so many good people; it’s just by chance that I’m the guy people notice,” Leier said. “Everyone with Midcontinent and CBS Sports is passionate about the game and about doing good work.”

Leier’s job also gives him the chance to work with students.

“I work to make sure they have as good of an experience at UND as I did,” he said. “I can’t imagine having went anywhere else. I don’t think I would’ve had nearly as much fun.”

Leier says he is often blown away by what UND alumni have accomplished, both professionally and personally, and seeing how UND changed their lives and how many incredible people passed through the school.

Leier hasn’t turned in his skates yet, as he still plays in local leagues twice a week and now has the pleasure of watching his grandson learn to skate.

“Outside of my parents, UND has had the biggest impact on my life.” Leier said. “And that is because it was here that I met my wife, Cindy, fell in love with both, her and hockey, and found my passion for television.”

Amy Halvorson University & Public Affairs student writer

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