Laura Halldorson, who built the University of Minnesota women’s hockey program into a national powerhouse, announced Friday that she is stepping down as head coach of the Golden Gophers after 11 years at the helm.
One of the most successful women’s hockey coaches in the nation and the only one to lead a program to five consecutive Frozen Fours, Halldorson guided the Gophers to three national championships (2000, 2004, 2005) during her 10 seasons of competitive coaching and departs Minnesota with an impressive record of 278-67-22 (.787). Coaching seven years at Colby College before her hiring at Minnesota, Halldorson leaves an 18-year head coaching career with a 337-142-31 overall record.
Halldorson said that she had been contemplating the move for some time due to the daily demands of the position but had just arrived at her final decision recently.
Director of Athletics Joel Maturi said he was saddened by Halldorson’s departure but understood her decision and was appreciative for her years of service.
“Laura put Minnesota women’s hockey on the map,” Maturi said. “She started with a blank slate and built a national championship program. She also helped raise the bar for women’s hockey across the nation. She is a true pioneer and the sport of intercollegiate women’s hockey owes her a great debt of gratitude. But beyond all her accomplishments, Laura has been an exceptional representative of this University. I have the utmost respect for her as a coach and a person.”
Maturi has announced that associate head coach Brad Frost would assume the duties of head coach on an interim basis for the 2007-08 campaign. A national search for Halldorson’s permanent replacement will be conducted following the season. Laura Slominski will also remain as an assistant coach.
The only women’s hockey coach to lead the Golden Gophers, Halldorson immediately built Minnesota into a national contender following her hiring in 1996. Over the next 10 seasons, Halldorson guided the Gophers to an average of nearly 28 wins per year and made national tournament appearances in eight of 10 seasons. The Maroon and Gold also maintained a constant presence in the final national rankings under Halldorson, finishing in the top five in eight of 10 seasons. During her stint at Minnesota, Halldorson led the Gophers to 20-win seasons every year, dating back to 1997-98. Of her 10 seasons, the Gophers held three 30-win seasons, all of which came in the national championship years. The Gophers’ winningest season came in 2004-05 when Halldorson led Minnesota to a 36-2-2 record.
In WCHA action alone, Halldorson won 152 games en route to four WCHA regular season championships and three tournament championships. In 2003-04 and 2004-05, Halldorson and the Gophers dominated the WCHA, winning the regular season and tournament championships. In all, the Gophers finished in the top half of the WCHA all eight years of the league and appeared in seven WCHA Championship games in eight seasons.
As a result of the Gophers’ success, Halldorson was named the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) National Coach of the Year in 1998, 2002 and 2004. She was also tabbed as the WCHA coach of the year in 2001, 2002 and 2005.
Halldorson’s players also earned national recognition during her tenure. In addition to coaching five Olympians (Natalie Darwitz, Courtney Kennedy, Kelly Stephens, Lyndsay Wall and Krissy Wendell), Minnesota student-athletes earned a total of eight first team All-America citations. She also coached 2005 Patty Kazmaier Award Winner Krissy Wendell, an award given to the top women’s hockey player in the nation. On the conference level, Halldorson coached 16 first team All-WCHA honors and four WCHA Player-of-the-Year awards.