CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — New Boston College and former Harvard assistant coach Ron Rolston might have to find a new hiding place in his apartment for hockey notebooks and scouting reports.
That’s because he lives with Crimson assistant Nate Leaman.
When BC announced Rolston’s hiring on Thursday, it meant that the two would no longer coach together, even if they have the same address.
Nevertheless, Rolston said he would continue to take recruiting trips with Leaman — not a bad idea considering the success the duo has had over the past two seasons in bringing talent to Cambridge.
Seeing many of his recruits blossom during the Crimson’s run to the NCAA tournament in March certainly made leaving Harvard that much more difficult for Rolston.
“This was a real tough decision for me because of what the coaching staff [at Harvard] has built up,” said Rolston, who e-mailed the team’s players Wednesday after finalizing the decision. “This is the best group of kids I’ve had a chance to work with in 11 years of coaching. Nate and I spent a lot of time trying to find the exact right kid to help us win championships, and when you’re successful in bringing in a great group of kids, it makes this decision tough.”
Rolston is widely regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in college hockey and has been praised recently for his efforts with the Crimson’s strength and conditioning program.
“I just felt that from my development as a coach, the opportunity [at BC] was one I had to take,” Rolston said. “It’s a challenge I needed to approach. Hockey East is a great league and it’ll challenge me as a coach. Boston College is a great place for ice hockey with the success they’ve had there in the past five years.”
Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni — who arrived in Cambridge the same year as Rolston — said BC coach Jerry York contacted him on April 18, three days after the position opened up when Scott Paluch left the Eagles for Bowling Green.
“I told him that if he decided to do it, I’d be disappointed, but happy for him at the same time,” Mazzoleni said of Rolston. “He’s not a Boston guy or a BC guy and doesn’t even know York very well. This is a real tribute to him. He’s been a winner wherever he’s been.
“My relationship with Ron is outstanding. We have tremendous respect for one another.”
Mazzoleni indicated that the search for Rolston’s replacement would begin immediately.
“Harvard is becoming an attractive hockey program again, and due to that fact I’m confident we’ll be able to attract a very qualified person to the program,” Mazzoleni said. “Harvard has made a progressive climb over the last three years, culminating with our NCAA berth last March. That, along with the Harvard legacy, will allow us to attract very good candidates.”
Rolston had a reputation of being a player’s coach at Harvard, something that sophomore winger Rob Fried confirmed on Thursday.
“He has a great sense of humor and the guys loved being around him,” Fried said. “He was certainly part of bringing a lot of [recruits] to the team.”
Fried pointed out that, while Rolston might be leaving, the off-season training program that has improved the team so much during his tenure will remain firmly in place.
“Coach Rolston gave us a program that will put us through the summer,” Fried said. “That shows what a class act he is.”
Junior center Dominic Moore said that the optimism surrounding Harvard’s run to the NCAA tournament is still very much in tact despite Rolston’s departure.
“He’s a great coach and a great guy, and it’s a shame that he left,” Moore said. “But it’s not going to be a problem for us. We have the same goals, and this is the same team. We’re going to take this thing where we need to go regardless of who’s here.”
Harvard and Boston College are scheduled to meet at Bright Hockey Center in November and could also play in the Beanpot championship or consolation next February.