ERIE, Pa. — Mercyhurst coach, Rick Gotkin, already the longest serving full-time head coach in the school’s history, was granted a three-year contract extension today, taking him through the 2003-04 season.
“We wanted to reward Rick for what he’s done with the men’s program over the years and, particularly, for his team’s accomplishments in the 2000-01 season,” said athletic director Pete Russo. “Perhaps more importantly, we wanted to maintain the continuity of the program and to serve notice to potential players that our head coach will be staying at Mercyhurst.”
Gotkin came to Mercyhurst when it was a Division III program, leaving RPI, where he was an assistant. Over the next 13 years, Gotkin compiled 232 wins, incuding the MAAC tournament championship this past season, which gave the Lakers the MAAC’s first-ever automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. Once there, Mercyhurst pulled off a near-miracle upset, losing to eventual-Frozen Four participant Michigan, 4-3.
“I’m very excited to have been given this vote of confidence by the administration,” said Gotkin, who was a finalist for the 2001 Penrose Award as Coach of the Year. “The program’s reputation has grown by leaps and bounds since joining the Division I MAAC Hockey League. My staff and I want to build on what the team accomplished this season.”
Mercyhurst made the switch to a Division II non-scholarship program in 1993, though still competed in the Division III ECAC West, which it won in 1995.
The Lakers made the switch to Division I in 1998-99 and eventually joined the fledgling Division I MAAC Hockey League in 1999. In just two seasons in the MAAC, Mercyhurst has gone a combined 38-12-3. In 1999-2000, the Lakers finished second in their inaugural season in the 10-team league, then lost to eventual playoff champ, Connecticut, at Connecticut in the conference semifinals.
This year, Mercyhurst won the regular season title before defeating Quinnipiac in the MAAC tournament final, 6-5. Gotkin was named MAAC Coach of the Year.
Gotkin’s Laker squads made a Division III NCAA appearance in 1991, and played in the Division II tournament in 1993 and 1995. He is the only coach ever to take the same program to the NCAA playoffs at all three levels.