SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Scott Borek has been fired as head coach at Lake Superior State, after five seasons at the helm.
Borek came to Lake Superior from Division III Colby, taking over for Jeff Jackson, who became legendary in the area for winning two national championships. Jackson was reportedly offered a chance to return, but recently declined.
Instead, rumors are swirling that another former Laker national championship coach, Frank Anzalone, will return to the Soo. Anzalone was fired as head coach of the Pee Dee Pride of the East Coast Hockey League last October, and has bounced around pro hockey since leaving Lake Superior.
Borek, 37, was under fire from the get go in Lake Superior, both from fans and the administration, for not being able to continue previous success. The Lakers were 76-94-17 under Borek, including a 13-23-0 record this past season when they failed to make the CCHA playoffs for the first time in 19 years.
Last season, the Lakers finished a promising third in the CCHA and Borek won Coach of the Year. But they lost in the first round of the CCHA tournament to Bowling Green, and never won a playoff game under Borek.
Last spring, Borek signed a two-year contract extension at Lake Superior that made him the ninth-highest paid head coach in the league. Shortly thereafter, the Dartmouth graduate pursued the Princeton job, though he denied it to the bitter end.
“I was given an opportunity to coach here and I’ll always cherish that,” Borek said to the Soo Evening News. “This is the nature of the business and a risk that you take as a coach. My first concern is to make sure my family is not affected by this. I was caught off guard by the decision and I haven’t talked with them about our future plans yet.
“It has been a great experience for me. I feel I am a much better coach and stronger person. I leave with no ill will and will always wish the best for the program.”
This season, the Lakers were decimated with three major injuries and several minor ones.
“This move is a response to the past five years, the lack of success, the direction of the team,” said athletic director Bill Crawford to the Evening News. “Scott deserves great credit for graduating athletes (seven this May), for leading a good group who carried themselves well and brought credit to themselves and their families. We have had less off-ice difficulty and more success in the classroom than at any time in my memory. We just didn’t have success on the ice, and we need that too. This is the business side of hockey, and it isn’t always fun.”
Jackson left Lake Superior in 1996, after losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament to Vermont. He coached seven years, and won national championships in 1992 and 1994. Anzalone led the Lakers to the 1988 title.
Borek had been an assistant at Brown and Providence before coaching at Colby. A neck injury ended his playing career during his sophomore season at Dartmouth, and he served as an assistant there while finishing his degree.