College Hockey:
Kleinendorst replaces Luongo as Alabama-Huntsville coach

Chris Luongo has resigned as Alabama-Huntsville’s head coach and the school replaced him with former NHL and AHL coach Kurt Kleinendorst, UAH announced Tuesday night.

Luongo was 6-54-3 in two turbulent seasons with the Chargers after being the team’s assistant coach for two seasons.

Alabama-Huntsville’s varsity program, an independent since the demise of the CHA after the 2009-10 season, was slated for termination last October before the school reconsidered. The Chargers, however, had to rebuild their schedule and host only two games this season against Division I competition.

Kleinendorst, meanwhile, led the Binghamton Senators to the AHL championship in 2011 in the first year of a two-year stint as head coach. He also has been a head coach with the AHL’s Lowell Devils and with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.

He was an assistant coach for the NHL’s New Jersey Devils for nine years, winning a Stanley Cup in 2000.

“We believe Kurt Kleinendorst’s experience coaching at the highest levels of the National Team Development Program and professional ice hockey, and the discipline he will bring to the program on and off the ice, will create an environment that will allow us to enhance our status in Division I hockey as he takes over the reins as head coach,” Alabama-Huntsville athletic director E.J. Brophy said in a statement.

“Our program is at a critical juncture in its history, and our best opportunity to maintain our tradition of competitive ice hockey lies with Kurt Kleinendorst.”

A Hobey Baker Award finalist at Providence in 1983, Kleinendorst played minor league hockey through 1990.

He inherits a program that finished 2-27-1 last season and has big issues to face off the ice.

“During my 30-plus year association with Kurt Kleinendorst, I have been fortunate to watch him develop as a student-athlete, player, scout and coach at various levels,” New Jersey Devils general manager and former Providence coach Lou Lamoriello said in a statement. “There is no question in my mind that Kurt will be a decided asset to the University of Alabama-Huntsville hockey team both on and off the ice, and help UAH in their pursuit of a major Division I hockey conference affiliation.”

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  • Krackie

    Kudos to Alabama-Huntsville on a great hire.

  • MTU Fan

    Hey WCHA, let the Chargers in. I’m a Michigan Tech fan in Nashville dying for this to happen.

  • WCHAwelcomesYou

    Welcome the WCHA as the invite will be mailed next month.
    Teams from NCHC will be salivating as the Chargers have a Andy Murray coach.
    A Minnesota native will bring some talent from Gopher nation.
    Southern Fried Chicken, Pasties, Eskimos, Paul Bunyan, all sound good to me
    . Mr Mcleod will be flying from his office on the campus of University of Denver with Coach Owens and Coach Gwozdecky to welcome the UAH Chargers in the WCHA.

    • http://twitter.com/paulscottcfp Paul Scott

      Hope it’s true! Question though, why would Owens and Gwozdecky be part of trip noting their teams will be leaving WCHA for NCHC?

      • ChargerNation

        Maybe Coach Owens and Coach Gwozdecky will go along with Mr Mcleod to show they support the future WCHA since all three will be gone when the landscape changes the following season.
        Who knows maybe Alabama might excite the NCHC so they can truly be called the “National” Collegiate Hockey Conference.
        Or they might be a bidding war between the NCHC and nWCHA.

        • spanky@gmail.com

          The NCHC will NEVER take in UAH. The whole reason these teams left the WCHA was to avoid playing garbage programs with no fans. Atlantic Hockey or nWCHA would be a much better fit for UAH. However, the nWCHA will have 2 alaska schools already so will likely balk at adding a 3rd school that requires flying to get to. My guess is UAH only shot is Atlantic Hockey since they will have an opening once UCONN leaves for HE.

          • GregV

            I hope the WCHA takes UAH to get to 12 teams. Then in a few years, when WMU, St Cloud or UNO have had enough of the NCHC (someone has to finish in the bottom), the WCHA can tell them to kiss our a$#.

          • WCHAforever

            It will be so cool when the WCHA doesnt except any of those teams back in the future. The AHA will be accepting WMU,UNO and St Cloud. The Alaska and Yooper boys will not need those rodents in the WCHA.

          • ForrestGump

            Its funny how the NCHC can be so picky on teams that they take but they got rejected from the real elite teams Boston University, Boston College and Notre Dame.
            I only see the NCHC losing teams not gaining teams since excisting and expansion teams are out of the question in joining the NCHC.
            Plus North Dakota has a hazing incident on their hands.

      • BOBO

        It is good to see Coach Owens and Gwozdecky support the WCHA and UAH Chargers. They must have a lot heart towards the remaining programs.

  • Hockey Guy

    So what job did the former coach find?

  • Scott

    I would love to see UAH in the new National, but it won’t happen. Hopefully the new WCHA will bring them in. Can’t let a college hockey program die.

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