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College Hockey:
Spencer Penrose Award winner Leaman moves to Providence

Not long after being named the Spencer Penrose Award winner as the Division I men’s coach of the year, Nate Leaman is changing his address.

Leaman is moving to Providence after leading Union to the school’s first ECAC Hockey regular season championship and first NCAA tournament berth in 2010-11.

“We are thrilled to have Nate Leaman coming to Providence College to coach our men’s hockey team,” Rev. Brian Shanley, Providence’s president, said in a statement. “I believe he is the type of person who can lead our student-athletes and build our program.”

Leaman replaces Tim Army, who had five straight losing seasons in a six-year stay at Providence. The Friars were 8-18-8 last season, and they haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 2001.

Union was 26-10-4 under Leaman last season, going 14-1-1 over its final 16 regular season games to win the league title.

In eight seasons at Union, Leaman was 138-127-35.

“I believe Nate Leaman has all the qualities necessary to put Providence College hockey in a position to be one of the top teams in Hockey East,” Friars athletic director Bob Driscoll said in a statement. “Having started my career at Union College, I have complete respect for what Nate was able to accomplish and build with the Dutchmen. Most importantly, Nate deserves full credit for everything he got done at Union, as he did it with a lot of hard work and perseverance.”

Providence plans to introduce Leaman to fans and media on May 3.

Union, in turn, named associate head coach Rick Bennett as Leaman’s replacement.


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  • Unionfan

    A tough week for Union hockey, with the departures of Kinkaid and now Leaman. Leaman cashed out his hard-earned success, rather than trying to build Union into a perennial contender or waiting for a more prestigious opening. No doubt he’ll get paid (a lot) more and he will be able to recruit with atheletic scholarships. Perhaps Leaman felt he could not have possibly done more at Union. Union was one of two teams in the NCAA field this year without an NHL draft pick on its roster (Air Force was the other). Hard to compete at the national level with one arm tied behind your back (no scholarships). As a long-suffering Union fan who finally tasted soms success this year, I hope we don’t return to mediocrity (or worse). The Union administration may need to consider anew how serious the school is about winning the Division I level. Once you’ve had the taste of success, it’s hard to go back.

    • BUfan25

      I do not think this is a step down. This gives a young coach a shot to coach in one of the two best college hockey conferences in the country. Will it be easy to bring Providence to the top of Hockey East? Absolutely not. But this is a program that (as others have said) offers scholarships and plays in Hockey East. If he can make improvements at a struggling Providence, I think doors will open for him in the years to come. No disrespect to Union fans, but this is a better job (simply because of conference affiliation). Union was a great story this year, and I hope they can continue to complete at the D1 level, but Providence offers opportunity.

  • kdiff77

    Wow…what a step down!

    • After Further Review

      I don’t think it’s a step down at all. Providence has been a pretty good team in the past, although it’s been a while. He will have better tools to recruit, such as being in Hockey East and having scholarships to use. If he can bring Union to what it was this year, maybe he can do the same at Providence, but even faster. He is still a young coach, if he does well at Providence, then that more prestigious job will come along.
      I do feel for Union though, I hope they can continue to grow and improve on their very successful season.

    • Stevenp190

      A step down?? Please explain.

      • kdiff77

        I said that more in jest to my crosstown counterparts (I’m a Brown fan)…a move to the Hockey East is probably a step up from any ECAC program, minus the big names like Cornell, Harvard, Clarkson, and RPI. Leaman should be able to thrive at PC. He excelled with Union, which I believe does not offer scholarships, is in an inferior conference, and is a no-name place. If he can recruit to a school with those shortcomings, I imagine he will be great at a school with even marginally better resources.

        Unfortunately, this will probably mean PC will maintain the upper hand in the Mayor’s Cup series… :/

        • Chester Arthur

          “a no-name place” when speaking of Union. Care to clarify yourself? Union has some of the best academics in the northeast. In fact, back in 1795 when it was founded, it was actually considered an Ivy League school. And the reason why Harvard wears Crimson and Union wears Garnet is because back in the 1800s, there was a crew race to determine who’d get Garnet. Union is not a “no-name place”. Far from it. It might not be a Brown, buy it is probably a better school than 90% of the schools that have D-1 hockey.

          • kdiff77

            Go take a poll amongst college hockey recruits. See how many know what Union College is and how many know what Providence College is.

            I wasn’t trying to knock the institution; obviously it is an EXCEPTIONAL school. However, is “Union” synonymous with athletics? No. Is Providence? Not really, but much more so, largely because of the basketball program. In the eyes of most 18-year-old recruits, Union is indeed a “no-name” school.

  • Anonymous

    Not a step down but Providence is a perrenial doormat in Hockey East. They are playing 3 games a season against BC, BU, UNH and Maine – not an easy road and there is no reason to assume Leaman is going to be more successful against those and other teams than was Army and Poole. PC’s facilities – well, I’ve seen better at high schools and no kid good enough to go to one of the Big 4 are going to choose Providence.

    • After Further Review

      I agree and am not a Providence fan, but I think with the fact that the kids can play against UNH, Maine, BU, and BC three times a year may be a good draw for the kids not quite to that level, but possibly close. I have never been to Union, but I can’t imagine their facilities are top of the line and what do they have to make kids go there? I think Providence is a chance, although just that, a chance, he should take and see what he can do. If he wins, there will be bigger and better things for him.

      • Anonymous

        Playing against the big boys – that’s certainly a draw for those kids not quite at that level. But every once in a while another HEA team kicks butt – like Lowell and UMass a few years back and Merrimack this year. HEA is so competitive and for Coach Leaman this has to be a great step forward for his career in terms of exposure.

        Just don’t think PC is going to improve from him alone. Army and Poole were very strong coaches and taking the PC job probably doomed their careers or at the least sent them off the fast track.

        • After Further Review

          It’s certainly not going to be easy, but maybe he can make some other changes there as well. I also agree Poolie and Army were good coaches, but I think at this point in his career it’s a chance that he would be crazy to not accept. If you can talk a kid into coming to Union to play Cornell, Yale, RPI and Dartmouth twice a year, it’s worth a shot.

  • Teacherjjlee

    Hockeyeast is Tough league. 4 power teams such as BU, UNH,BC, Maine. There dark horse teams such as Providence, UMass, Lowell, Vermont. Next year I hope BU make it NCAA.

  • Suture1

    I heard it through the grapevine that Sandelin is gone as well. We’ll see.

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