“We are pleased to be able to guarantee stability in both of our Division I programs,” said Mercyhurst athletic director Pete Russo, “and are very proud of each team’s accomplishments.”
Gotkin directed the Lakers to a third successive regular season championship in the MAAC in 2002-03. The Lakers trailed eventual second-place finisher Quinnipiac by a substantial margin in early January, but went a combined 15-3-1 in January and February to overtake the Bobcats. Mercyhurst then reached the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years after defeating Iona, Bentley and Quinnipiac in the MAAC tournament.
Mercyhurst was 78-19-8 in its four seasons in the MAAC, including three regular-season titles, two MAAC championships and one MAAC runner-up. Gotkin was the conference’s Coach of the Year in 2000-01 when the Lakers won both the conference regular and postseason titles, and gained the MAAC’s first automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. For his efforts, he was a finalist for the 2001 Spencer Penrose Award, given to the men’s ice hockey University Division Coach of the Year.
Yesterday, the nine MAAC schools left the league to create a new conference, Atlantic Hockey.
Gotkin has worked fifteen years at Mercyhurst, the longest tenure of any Mercyhurst College head coach, past or present. He came to Division III Mercyhurst from Division I Rensselaer in 1988 and quietly began to build the varsity program.
Gotkin has overseen the program’s transformation from Division III to Division II (1993) to Division I (1999) status. The Lakers were members of the ECAC West from 1988 through 1999 before joining the Division I MAAC Hockey League.
Gotkin has also coached in the “USA Select 17 National Festival,” from 1997-2000.
Sisti worked his first six years at Mercyhurst as Gotkin’s assistant, and then made the switch from men’s associate head coach to women’s head coach in March 1999. In four seasons, Sisti has built the women’s program from scratch into one that’s very competitive. The Lakers finished 23-6 in their opening season, 14-16-3 with an upgraded Division I schedule in 2000-01, 24-8-1 in 2001-2002, and 25-8-1 in 2002-03.
Women’s hockey had its first graduating class of 11 skaters and a goaltender in May. Senior forward and four-year team captain C.J. Ireland was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” segment at the conclusion of the 2002-03 season. Senior goalie Tiffany Ribble led Division I last season in both save percentage (.932) and goals-against-average (1.48).
Sisti teams have won three regular season conference championships, two in the Great Lakes Women’s Hockey Association (GLWHA) and last season in College Hockey America (CHA). He guided Mercyhurst to GLWHA and CHA playoff championships the last two years and a Division I top 10 ranking throughout most of the previous two seasons.
Sisti was named GLWHA Coach of the Year in 2002 and CHA Coach of the Year in 2003. For his efforts, he was selected as a finalist for both the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 Division I Coach of the Year award.