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Reflecting on Amanda Kessel’s collegiate career

 (Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com)

Noora Räty (L) says that practicing against Amanda Kessel (R) made her a better goalie. (Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com)

Arguably the best player to don a jersey for the women’s hockey team at Minnesota has announced her college career has come to an end. Lingering concussion symptoms and an unsure future have led Amanda Kessel to close the door on a prolific college career that included scoring 97 goals and tallying 231 points across three seasons. She is fourth among all-time scorers at Minnesota.

In her final year as a Gopher, Kessel racked up 101 points (46 goals, 55 assists), leading the Gophers to a perfect 41-0 season and winning the Patty Kazmaier Award.

Kessel took a redshirt season to compete with Team USA in the Sochi Olympics. She suffered the concussion in the lead-up to Sochi, but was cleared to play. She led the Americans with six points in five games.

After the games, however, she experienced “lingering concussion symptoms due to injuries sustained as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team,” leading her to have Minnesota release a statement in September 2014 explaining that she would sit out the 2014-15 season.

The press release statement on September 14 was the last public comment from Kessel on the subject.

“As someone who has played through a lot of injuries, it wasn’t until suffering a concussion that I fully understood the importance of being 100 percent healthy when I’m on the ice,” Kessel said in the statement. “Unfortunately, that isn’t the case right now. My No. 1 priority is my health, and I hope that I’ll be able to return to the ice in the future.”

Kessel redshirted for last season, so she’d have had to apply for an exemption from the NCAA to do so again for 2015-16. Instead, she announced she will retire.

“Amanda is one of the best players in the whole world,” said Minnesota coach Brad Frost. “To have somebody of her caliber — to have her college career ended by concussions is disappointing, first and foremost for her, but definitely for the hockey community as well.”

For Minnesota, recruiting top-caliber talent means that their players often have duties with their respective national teams, leaving them open to more injuries.

“I think that’s a big concern for every coach that has national team players; you want and need to recruit those players to make your team as good as can be,” said Frost.

It’s a balance for Frost and other college coaches, who both want to protect their players but also want them to reach their potential and goals.

“It’s hard to let them go when they’re not in your care, but at the same time, we’d never prevent them from participating with the national team,” said Frost. “I mean, that’s a dream of theirs — just like winning a national championship is. It’s a dream of theirs to represent their countries and we’d never stop them from doing it. Just like a parent who has to let their child go out of the nest eventually, it’s the same thing for us as college coaches. When you have tremendous players like that, you have to let them go to these different tournaments and camps and you just have to hope they come back healthy.”

Former Minnesota goalie and Finnish national team member Noora Räty had the privilege of playing both for and against Kessel.

“I would say that when she was 100 percent healthy, she was the best player in the world. I’m really sad to see her career end like this, but I know she’s doing good now. It’s not only a loss to the University of Minnesota, but to the whole community of women’s hockey.

“I truly enjoyed having her on the team and going against her in practice, because I knew that if I could stop her in the practice, I could stop anyone in the game. I mean, she was just a great teammate too, not only on the ice, but off the ice too. She got along with everyone and she’s not the loudest girl in the room, but she definitely led by example. She’s just a world-class athlete. It was just fun to watch her every time on the ice. Her speed and her skill are just different than anyone else. I was a little sad that her career ended like this.”

Kessel is the latest in an increasingly growing line of women’s college hockey players that have had their careers jeopardized with concussions.

This is the third Minnesota player in the last five years whose career was cut short by concussion. Forward Ashley Stenerson was forced to retire after her freshman season, and goaltender Alyssa Grogan missed 16 months, though she was able to make a brief on-ice appearance for her Senior Day.

U.S. National Team player and member of the Harvard Crimson Josephine Pucci missed a season due to concussions, as did Wisconsin’s Brittany Ammerman. They, along with Kessel and, notably, the NHL’s Sidney Crosby, worked with doctors at the renowned Carrick Brain Center in Atlanta on their brain health management and rehabilitation.

Ammerman spent much of her year off the ice in dark rooms, trying to control the symptoms of her concussion. She chose to return to the ice after recovering when doctors told her she’d have to hit her head in the exact same way a second time in order to suffer lasting effects. She returned to Wisconsin and led the team in points and was a Patty Kazmaier top-10 finalist for the 2013-2014 season.

Though it can seem like the number of concussions is on the rise or that games have gotten more physical, Räty said it’s just likely that we’re paying more attention.

“The physicality and everything is probably the same that it used to be, but what’s better is research and knowing more about concussions,” she said. “Before you would have a headache and they’d just tell you to go out and play. Now it’s so much easier to know if you’re concussed or not.”

As the women’s game does not include body checking, many assume there is a lack of physicality in the game. The ongoing concussion issue belies the argument, but Räty believes bringing checking into the women’s game might actually help bring down head injuries.

Having spent the past season playing in a men’s professional league in Finland, Räty brings perspective to the checking argument.

“It’s different with girls; that’s why I’d like to see some day to have body checking in girls hockey, so that players will be more aware when they go in the corners,” Räty said. “The biggest difference I see between boys and girls is that when guys go to the corner, they’re really aware who’s behind them. But girls go to the corner and they don’t really know who’s behind them or who’s a threat and that’s when I think the injuries happen the most, because they’re not ready to get hit. Guys are constantly aware that someone might body check you, so their bodies are ready to take the hits. As a girl, you’re not really prepared to get hit and when you get hit, you’re more likely to get hurt.”

While the announcement only covered Kessel’s college career, it’s impossible to know what the future holds for her.

“It’s one of the most frustrating injuries because one day you might feel good and another day you might feel awful can’t even get out of the bed,” said Räty. “It’s the kind of injury that impacts the rest of your life. You really can’t know if it takes two weeks or if it takes your whole life.”

One of the hardest parts of hearing about Kessel’s retirement is wondering “what if” about her final season with the Gophers. Inserting her skill into the already potent line-up set to hit the ice for Minnesota this season is the stuff of Gophers fans dreams. While Frost and Gophers fans everywhere are understandably upset and disappointed that this will never happen, Frost did find a small comfort in thinking about Kessel’s career.

“The silver lining is that in Amanda’s last year playing for us in 2013, we went 41-0, the only program to ever go undefeated,” said Frost. “She was the Patty Kazmaier Award winner and she finished her career with us on top. It was going to be hard for her, if she ever came back, to try to duplicate that, anyway. That’s the thing that I, and I think all of our fans, will remember about Amanda — is that she went out with us, anyways, on top and she was a special, special player that made everybody around her better and she was a threat every time she stepped on the ice.”

Former college players Drury, Ruggiero, DeGregorio among 2015 U.S. Hockey Hall class

Chris Drury was a three-time Hobey Baker Award finalist at Boston University, winning in his senior season of 1998 (photo: Boston University Athletics).

Three former college hockey players — Boston University All-American and Hobey Baker Award winner Chris Drury, Harvard All-American and Patty Kazmaier Award recipient Angela Ruggiero and former Middlebury goaltender Ron DeGregorio — are among the four individuals announced Monday as the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2015.

The class, which also includes former standout NHL defenseman Mathieu Schneider, will be formally inducted at a ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 17, at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel.

“This is a tremendous class,” USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean said. “As the years go by, we are installing people who are friends, who I’ve worked with or watched play.

“As time goes by, the history of American hockey gets richer and richer and the candidates of the classes get stronger and stronger.”

A 12-year NHL veteran, Drury captured the 2001 Stanley Cup as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. But before landing in the NHL, his collegiate career was among the most memorable of any player in the storied history of Boston University.

Drury played at BU from 1994 to 1998 and amassed 214 points in 155 career games. He was a member of the 1995 national championship team as a freshman, was Hockey East’s player of the year in 1997 and ’98 and won the Hobey as a senior in 1998 after being a finalist the previous two seasons.

A year later, Drury won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year, making him the only person to capture the Hobey Baker and Calder trophies.

“USA Hockey has always meant the world to me and my family,” said Drury, whose brother Ted, a Harvard grad, also played for multiple U.S. national teams. “Certainly, without USA Hockey and coaching at 15, 16 and 17 years old, I may never have made it. I am certainly humbled today.

“When you look at the list of [Hall of Famers], there are so many who I wanted to be like. It’s special to now be alongside them.”

Ruggiero is a four-time Olympic medalist representing Team USA and played more games in an American uniform (256) than any other ice hockey player in the country’s history.

But Ruggiero also left her mark at Harvard, helping lead the team to a national title as a freshman in 1999 and capping her career with the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2004. In 127 games for the Crimson, Ruggiero totaled 243 career points from the blue line.

“I’m so excited today and so happy to be part of this class,” said Ruggiero, who checked in Monday from Malaysia, where she is tending to her duty as a member of the International Olympic Committee. “I can’t say enough for USA Hockey and what they have done for my career.

“Fortunately, I found hockey at a very young age when I was 7. I was able to compete on my first [national] team in 1998 and can’t say enough about the opportunities I have had because I wore the [U.S.] sweater for so long.”

DeGregorio may have had the most modest college hockey career of the trio at Middlebury in the 1960s, but his achievements after his playing days left his permanent mark on American hockey.

His 40-plus-year career with USA Hockey included a 12-year span as the organization’s president ending in June. He was instrumental in the formation of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, which has evolved into a revered program that has enhanced elite player development and U.S. success in international competition.

He also was instrumental in the development of USA Hockey’s American Development Model, which was launched in 2009 and has been widely acclaimed, including today being used as the basis for the U.S. Olympic Committee’s athlete development program.

Among other signature programs, DeGregorio also championed the implementation of USA Hockey SafeSport as well as USA Hockey’s Progressive Checking Skill Development Program. His leadership is also evident in the insurance and risk management arenas and in use of technology, including the push to online player registration and online education modules in coaching and officiating education.

“This is quite an honor,” said DeGregorio. “USA Hockey is blessed with so many great leaders gathered to grow the game. From the grassroots level to the NHL to the international, we’ve had such great success.”

Murphy leaves North Dakota, will transfer to Arizona State

Wade Murphy has left UND to transfer to Arizona State (photo: Bradley K. Olson).

North Dakota forward Wade Murphy will not return to Grand Forks for the 2015-16 season and will instead transfer to Arizona State.

The Grand Forks Herald first reported that Murphy left school and SB Nation reported the ASU transfer. He’ll sit out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

 

Murphy, who was a seventh-round draft pick (185th overall) of the Nashville Predators in 2013, posted four assists in 35 games over two seasons with UND.

Umile gets three-year contract extension at New Hampshire

Dick Umile will be behind the New Hampshire bench for three more seasons (photo: Melissa Wade).

The Grand Forks Herald reported Friday that New Hampshire has given longtime head coach Dick Umile to a three-year extension through the 2017-18 season.

And while there was no formal announcement from UNH, the school did confirm the transaction in an email to USCHO.com on Friday.

The Herald reported that the new contract officially began retroactively on July 1 after being signed July 15.

Umile, who has been New Hampshire’s head coach since 1990, has lead the Wildcats to seven Hockey East regular-season titles and two Hockey East playoff titles, but have missed the NCAA tournament three of the last four seasons.

Robert Morris women’s assistant Bittle promoted to associate coach

Logan Bittle has been elevated from assistant coach to associate head coach of the Robert Morris women’s team.

A former player at RMU from 2004 to 2008, Bittle has been an assistant under head coach Paul Colontino the past five seasons.

“Some of the big things that make [Logan] so deserving of this title are his work ethic and his loyalty to not only the hockey programs, but the school as a whole,” said Colontino in a statement. “He’s got a true love and passion for Robert Morris and Robert Morris athletics that filters down into his specific role with the women’s hockey program. He’s just earned the title and he’s earned it through his actions. I’m extremely excited about this opportunity for him.”

“I’ve been here since day one of the men’s program,” Bittle added. “So to see how Robert Morris has developed as a school and as a hockey program in the last 10 years is something special. It’s definitely family for my wife [Brianne McLaughlin] and I. She played here as well, so we’re both really happy to be connected with Robert Morris and it’s quite an honor to be named associate head coach of a program I’ve been a part of for some time now.

“I know a lot of our girls have been working really hard this summer, so once they get back and the new players get settled and comfortable with college life, our main goals are to grow as a team and work together toward the common goal we have of winning the CHA championship and advancing to the NCAA tournament.”

Elmira grad Waters named new AHA/CHA director of communications

Steffan Waters is the new Atlantic Hockey and College Hockey America director of communications. Waters takes over for David Rourke, who stepped down to pursue other non-athletic related opportunities. Waters, a 2013 graduate of Elmira, joins the AHA/CHA after spending the last two years at his alma mater as a graduate assistant in the Department of Sports Information.

Penn State names Dawes assistant coach, director of women’s hockey operations

After serving as an interim assistant coach last season, Alex Dawes has been named to the role of assistant coach/director of operations for the Penn State women’s team.

Dawes is entering his third season with the Nittany Lions.

“I am very excited to have Alex on board to continue the excellent work he did this past season,” PSU head coach Josh Brandwene said in a statement. “He’s an outstanding teacher, communicator and recruiter who always has a positive influence on our program.”

“I would personally like to thank Coach Brandwene, Dr. Kurtz, and athletic director Sandy Barbour for the opportunity to continue to be a part of the Penn State family,” Dawes added. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with our amazing student-athletes for two years now and they are prime examples of everything Penn State stands for in the classroom and on the ice. I cannot wait for our season to begin and I am honored to be a member of this staff.”

With the Nittany Lions, Dawes primarily works with defensemen, the penalty kill and video coaching. He also oversees the day-to-day operation of the program, including game scheduling, away trip management, home game-day coordination and hockey technology.

A 2012 graduate of Utica, he served as assistant coach/director of hockey operations for the Pioneer men’s team from 2009 to 2012. Prior to Utica, Dawes spent his freshman year, 2008-09, at Vermont as the director of hockey operations.

Bentley adds Dyment to coaching staff

Former Boston University defenseman Chris Dyment has been hired as an assistant coach at Bentley, head coach Ryan Soderquist announced.

A native of Reading, Mass., Dyment joins a staff that’s been together for the better part of the last decade. Soderquist, himself a Bentley graduate in 2000, is entering his 14th season as the team’s head coach, and he holds the all-time wins record for the program with 173.

The Falcons’ other assistant, Ben Murphy, played for Maine from 2001-2005 and is entering his seventh season with the school.

For the last two years, Dyment has been the head coach of the Tier III Junior A New Hampshire Junior Monarchs.

Dyment is a former Terriers team captain who played for coach Jack Parker from 1998 to 2002, twice being named both a second-team East Region All-American and an all-Hockey East selection.

He scored a high of 31 points during his sophomore season, when he tallied 11 goals and 20 assists. During his tenure, BU twice appeared in the NCAA tournament.

A fourth-round selection of the Montreal Canadiens in 1999 (97th overall), Dyment played in 163 AHL games for the Houston Aeros, Springfield Falcons, Providence Bruins and Albany River Rats. Following stints in the ECHL and Italy, he last played for the Trenton Devils in 2009.

Dyment replaces Matt Curley on the Bentley staff.

Former St. Thomas assistant Burgess ‘rose to the top’ over 100 candidates, tabbed head coach at Nichols

Nichols has announced the hiring of Parker Burgess as the 18th head coach in school history.

Burgess spent the previous five seasons at St. Thomas, first as an assistant coach (2010-13) before being elevated to associate head coach in 2013. The Tommies posted a combined mark of 82-38-12 with Burgess on staff and made a pair of trips to the NCAA tournament in 2012 and 2014.

He replaces Kevin Swallow, who resigned last month to become head coach at the University of New England.

“I am excited and honored to be named head coach of the Nichols men’s ice hockey program,” said Burgess in a news release. “I want to thank director of athletics Chris Colvin and all of the Nichols administrators for this opportunity. It is an exciting time to be at Nichols College and Jessie and I are looking forward to making the move to Massachusetts. I would be remised if I didn’t thank my family and Jessie for all their support throughout this process and my coaching career. I can’t wait to get on the ice and get started. Jessie and I are elated to be a part of the Nichols family.”

“Parker Burgess rose to the top of a very competitive application pool of over 100 candidates,” added Colvin. “The combination of Parker’s vast experience at St. Thomas, his focus on the full development of the student-athlete as a campus leader, and his process-focused approach to coaching made it clear that he was the right person to lead Nichols ice hockey into the future. I am pleased and excited to welcome Parker to Nichols College.”

A Calgary native, Burgess began his collegiate playing career at Robert Morris in 2006 and spent two years with the Colonials before transferring to St. Thomas, where he served as team captain as a senior in 2009-10.

“I would like to thank everyone at the University of St. Thomas,” added Burgess. “UST is a first class institution and I am very grateful for everything the school has done for me on a personal and professional level. Head coach Jeff Boeser has been a mentor to me and has prepared me for this opportunity. I can’t thank him enough. I want to thank all the other coaches I worked with at UST: Tony Lawrence, Andrew Kappers, Tyler Gubb, Jacque Vezina, Garret Gruenke and Evan Mackintosh. Each one of them helped me develop and grow as a coach. Finally, a heartfelt thank you to all the student-athletes who, over the past five years, worked tirelessly to take the UST hockey program to new heights.

“The Nichols hockey program has made great strides over the past few years. Coach Swallow has left big shoes to fill. He did an excellent job recruiting and creating a championship culture at Nichols. I want to build on the program’s recent success and take it to even higher levels. I am excited to work with a great group of returning student-athletes and several high-end recruits. It is my goal for the student-athletes to achieve success both on the ice and in the classroom, as well as be leaders on campus. Our goal will be to bring a national championship to Nichols. That said, we will not lose sight of the process and the little details necessary to have success. We will be an honest, hard-working team which will compete hard every game and not take a back seat to anyone.”

NCAA alumni Crowe, Moore join U.S. NTDP staff

USA Hockey announced Wednesday that former Clarkson defenseman Jeremiah Crowe (2006-10) has been named assistant director of player personnel and ex-Maine forward Greg Moore (2002-06) is the new intern assistant coach at USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Mich.

Five U.S. cities named finalists to host 2018 World Junior Championship

USA Hockey on Tuesday named Chicago, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Tampa as finalist cities in contention to host the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. The annual event, which features 10 nations, is conducted in late December/early January each year. “We’ll likely further narrow the field in the next 60 days and then conduct in-person visits before making a final decision,” said USA Hockey assistant executive director of marketing, communications and events Mike Bertsch in a statement.

North Dakota committee takes away option for school to continue to play with no nickname

The North Dakota Nickname Committee has decided to remove the option of the school’s men’s and women’s hockey teams continuing to play without a nickname has frustrated the school’s hockey community, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

Five nicknames are reportedly under consideration for UND – Sundogs, Roughriders, Nodaks, Fighting Hawks and North Stars.

The Herald reports a public vote will make the final decision, but UND president Robert Kelley will also have a say.

“Over the next few weeks I plan to further review all the feedback received, and I will consider the possible addition of ‘North Dakota’ in the voting process,” Kelley reportedly wrote in an email to school staff and the community, according to the Herald. “The voting process, which has not yet been defined, will not take place until fall, and this will allow adequate time to thoroughly review the feedback and make a final decision.”

“I want to state here that we are ‘North Dakota,’ and we will always be ‘North Dakota.’ I believe it is in the best interest of the university to have a new nickname – something that will go along with continuing to be ‘North Dakota’ – just as other major universities have nicknames. I think students, alumni, and fans would benefit from having cheers, chants and songs that connect to a true nickname. But that doesn’t and won’t detract from the fact we will always be ‘North Dakota.’ ”

The only person on the nickname committee with hockey ties is former UND goalie Karl Goehring, who voted against the motion.

“Why not let the people have a say?” Goehring said at the July 21 meeting. “There’s a way to construct it to give people a say in the matter and still give them other name options as well.”

Past and current UND players made it clear that they wanted to continue playing as North Dakota, as the teams have done the last three years. Several current and former players took to social media last week to voice their opinions.

“If it can’t be Fighting Sioux, I don’t see what’s wrong with keeping it University of North Dakota. I liked that,” former UND and longtime NHL defenseman Mike Commodore posted on Twitter.

“I wish the higher ups at UND would listen to the people who support UND athletics,” added former UND captain and Grand Forks native Mario Lamoureux in the report. “Why not let the people decide on a final nickname?”

Reigning Mike Richter Award winner Zane McIntyre also was disappointed by the news.

“It is hard not to be upset about the news that was given [July 21] regarding the UND nickname and potential options,” McIntyre said.

Former UND captain Dillon Simpson added, “Very disappointed about the committee’s decision. Both frustrating and thoughtless. Hope UND realizes the mistake they are making. If the backlash doesn’t do it, no one purchasing the new merchandise should do the trick.”

And add former UND forward Mark MacMillan to the list of irritated parties.

“Not sure who the eleven voting members are, but it is pretty clear with the students and athletics alumni what the number one choice is,” said McMillan in the Herald report. “Everyone gets that for now we can’t be the Fighting Sioux, but nothing, no matter how good the nickname is, will ever compare or ever be liked. Can’t believe they aren’t just going to leave it North Dakota.”

Wisconsin blueliner Dougherty one and done after signing with Nashville

Jack Dougherty spent just one season on the Wisconsin blue line (photo: Dan Hickling).

The Nashville Predators announced Friday that the club has signed Wisconsin defenseman Jack Dougherty to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Dougherty spent the 2014-15 season with the Badgers, tying for fourth among Big Ten freshmen defensemen in points (nine).

Nashville, who selected Dougherty in the second round (51st overall) of the 2014 NHL draft, also announced Dougherty will skate for the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks in 2015-16.

Renovations underway to Merrimack men’s and women’s locker rooms

Construction for newly renovated and expanded men’s and women’s locker rooms are underway in the Merrimack Athletic Center.

The women’s hockey team, set to debut this fall, will have a brand-new locker room to call its own, in addition to a team lounge and dining area, bathrooms, coaches’ offices and various other amenities servicing the sports medicine, strength and conditioning and equipment-related needs of the team.

Additionally, the men’s locker room will receive a major facelift of its own, as their previous space is being completely renovated for the upcoming season. The player lounge and dining area was relocated from its previous location and will have a vastly different look, with a spacious layout that will include tables and chairs, couches, recreational and exercise equipment, and a video review area. The men’s coaches’ offices have also been updated as part of the project.

Lastly, a new common hallway will connect not only the two locker rooms, but also will serve as an artery connecting Lawler Rink to Gallant Rink, allowing players to walk to and from either rink for practices and games.
“This is an absolute game-changer for our program,” men’s coach Mark Dennehy said in a statement. “President Hopey has already done so much for Merrimack hockey with the renovation of Lawler Rink and the Merrimack Athletic Complex, but this is the final piece.”

“There are many things that will make Merrimack women’s hockey successful,” added women’s head coach Erin Hamlen. “Walking into Lawler Rink every day is a privilege, and the addition of a brand-new locker room facility to go along with our brand-new program is like a dream.”

Colorado College goalie Perry leaves Tigers for BCHL opportunity

Chase Perry fashioned a 1-8-1 record for Colorado College in 2014-15, but will not be back with the Tigers for the 2015-16 season (photo: Candace Horgan).

According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, goalie Chase Perry has left Colorado College and returned to the Wenatchee Wild, formerly part of the NAHL, but joining the BCHL for the 2015-16 season.

The Gazette report states that CC coach Mike Haviland was not caught off-guard by the move.

“He wanted to talk to his folks about it and make a decision this offseason,” Haviland said in the report.

Perry went 1-8-1 with a 3.97 GAA and a .876 save percentage in 15 appearances last year after being a fifth-round draft pick (136th overall) by Detroit in the 2014 NHL draft.

The Tigers will have three goalies next season with incoming freshman Jacob Nehama and juniors Tyler Marble, who emerged as the starter last season, and Derek Shatzer, who did not play in 2014-15.

“I chose to return to Wenatchee because of the high quality coaching, the strength of the Wild organization and the support of the entire Wenatchee community,” Perry added in the report. “I know with Coach Bliss [Littler] we will have a team of high intensity players looking to reach the next level and an opportunity to play for a BCHL championship.”

The article also said forward Dan Labosky will not return to the team after seeing the ice in just two games in 2014-15 as a freshman.

Buffalo State taps assistant Murphy as interim coach for ’15-16 season

Buffalo State has promoted assistant coach Steve Murphy to interim head coach for the 2015-16 season.

Murphy, who played Division III hockey at Curry and St. Mary’s, replaces Nick Carriere, who accepted a coaching position with the St. John’s Ice Caps of the American Hockey League.

Murphy joined the Bengals’ staff last season as an assistant after serving as an assistant coach and strength and conditioning coach with the Kenai River Brown Bears of the North American Hockey League, where he previously served as a head scout.

Margarucci named USA Hockey’s manager of player safety

Kevin Margarucci has been named USA Hockey’s manager of player safety. Since 2001, Margarucci has served as head athletic trainer and teacher at Lewis-Palmer High School in Monument, Colo., and has also worked as an athletic trainer at Colorado College and for the United States Olympic Committee. he holds a master’s degree in athletic training from Indiana State and a bachelor’s degree in physical education and athletic training from Brockport.

Former Kazmaier winner Kessel sees concussion end career at Minnesota

A severe concussion has ended Amanda Kessel’s playing career at Minnesota (photo: USCHO).

The Grand Forks Herald is reporting that Minnesota will be without Amanda Kessel for what would have been her senior season of 2015-16.

A former Patty Kazmaier Award winner, who led Minnesota in scoring for three seasons, sustained a concussion while playing for the U.S. National Team and hasn’t played hockey since the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

She sat out last season with concussion-like symptoms and hasn’t participated in any U.S. National Team activities since Sochi.

Kessel used her first redshirt to play in the Winter Olympics and her second one last year. She did not attend classes last year.

Minnesota coach Brad Frost said Kessel may try to finish school.

“It’s just not worth it for her and her health,” Frost said in the Herald article.

Kessel posted 97 goals and 231 points with the Gophers. including 101 points as a junior when she won the Kazmaier Award and helped Minnesota to a national championship as part of a 41-0 perfect season.

Aitken leaves Marian head coach spot, returns as associate coach at St. Norbert

A.J. Aitken will return for his second stint on the St. Norbert staff as associate head coach, beginning Aug. 1.

Aitken, who has spent the last three seasons as the head coach at Marian, spent nine seasons on the SNC staff from 2003 to 2012. Aitken was 39-37-4 during his tenure at Marian.

“I am excited about the opportunity to rejoin the St. Norbert College hockey program,” Aitken said in a statement. “The overall experience at St. Norbert is first class, and I can’t wait to return to the St. Norbert College family.”

“We had a terrific nine-year run during A.J.’s first time here,” St. Norbert head coach Tim Coghlin added. “He has a wealth of experience and we’re glad to have him back. We’re excited about his next tenure here.”

Aitken played 140 games for Michigan Tech from 1996 to 2000, scoring 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points. He also served as the Huskies’ team captain during his last two seasons.

Following his NCAA career, Aitken played with Macon and Memphis of the now-defunct Central Hockey League and won two CHL titles in Memphis.

A national search is underway to find Aitken’s replacement at Marian.

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