There have been a lot of tumultuous events regarding Niagara athletics in recent years, and they are well documented.
But one thing that has not changed — and will not change for at least a little while — is head hockey coach Dave Burkholder’s presence at the school.
Purple Eagles athletic director Ed McLaughlin announced on Tuesday that Burkholder’s contract has been extended through the 2016-17 season. Details of the agreement were not disclosed.
“I consider myself to be very lucky to have the job that I have and to get to work with my staff. It is and has been unbelievable to work with,” said Burkholder, who was a Purple Eagles assistant before being named head coach in April 2001. “To be able to come to work with these guys, I am a lucky guy.”
Burkholder, a former standout Rochester Institute of Technology goaltender, has compiled a 191-165-45 record in his 11 years as head coach and drove the Purple Eagles to two College Hockey America playoff titles and subsequent NCAA tournament appearances. He was named CHA coach of the year twice.
And 12 years later, he is still around.
“It has gone by really fast and I have made a lot of friends,” Burkholder said. “And to have a large groups of kids who are now grown men with outstanding careers and families, it’s surreal, really.”
The extension is scheduled to keep Burkholder at Niagara for five years after this season. On Tuesday at least, he seemed unlikely to slip into complacency.
“No, not at all,” he said of being content. “Again, I consider myself to be very lucky, and it will motivate me. We have unfinished business as far as winning some championships. Obviously, I am proud of our academic record, and I think it is time for us to get back to the NCAA tournament.”
Burkholder’s situation could have been made a little dicey by the fact that McLaughlin is leaving for Virginia Commonwealth later this month.
“That wasn’t a factor in my situation,” said Burkholder, who said the agreement was reached in early July. “We have been dealing with this for over two months now. At the time, Ed and I had first met on this and had a handshake deal. It had obviously to satisfy the higher-ups.”
Niagara announced in March that it was eliminating women’s hockey as part of an athletic department restructuring.
That shakeup, however, didn’t stop the department from firming up the future of its men’s hockey program.
“Dave continues to run one of the best programs in college hockey across the board, so it is important for Niagara University to keep him behind the bench,” McLaughlin said in a statement. “Every year, Dave puts a good product on the ice, and that success carries over to all aspects of the Niagara hockey student-athletes’ lives. They live the Catholic and Vincentian mission of the university every day while competing for Atlantic Hockey championships.”