Ex-Northeastern women’s captain McCann named Salve Regina head coach

Salve Regina has tabbed Beth McCann as its new women’s head coach.

McCann founded the University of Rhode Island club hockey program and has served as its only head coach since 1999.

She also led the initiative of the ACHA to create the women’s National Select Team Development Camp and Program. The culmination of that effort was the inaugural participation of the ACHA women in international competition in France in 2010.

A two-time ACHA Coach of the Year (2005, 2008), McCann coached her Rhody squads to nine titles (304-128-26; .660 winning percentage) during 11 years of participation in its regional league, the Eastern Collegiate Women’s Hockey League. They also had nine ACHA final four appearances.

“Having participated first-hand in some of the early history, and growing pains, of women’s ice hockey, I have become a passionate advocate and voice for the female scholar-athlete,” said McCann in a news release. “I have endeavored to do so in a way that promotes fairness and collaboration among university administrators, men’s program leaders and USA Hockey executives so that the end result is a win-win for the sport, the athletes and the universities.”

McCann was also a former NCAA Division I player and captain at Northeastern.

Manhattanville teams to return to Playland Ice Casino after being displaced by Hurricane Sandy

Following two years in Stamford, Conn., the Manhattanville men’s and women’s teams will return to Playland Ice Casino for the 2014-15 season.

Playland Ice Casino served as the home of the Valiants for a decade from 2002 until 2012, when parts of the facility were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy just weeks before the start of the 2012-13 campaign. After two seasons at Terry Conners Rink in Stamford, Manhattanville will be back for its 11th season at Playland, which was built in 1930 on the site of Westchester’s Playland Amusement Park in nearby Rye, N.Y.

“It will be great to see our senior players finish their careers back at Playland after it was suddenly taken away from them as sophomores,” said head women’s coach David Turco in a statement. “More so, I’m excited for our incoming freshmen and underclassmen who will get to experience our great locker room and facility for the first time.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to return to Playland Ice Casino for the upcoming season,” added head men’s hockey coach Arlen Marshall. It’s an awesome place to call home for our players and coaching staff.”

Sweezey elevated from volunteer assistant to top women’s assistant at St. Michael’s

St. Michael’s has announced the hire of Meghan Sweezey as the program’s top women’s assistant coach.

Sweezey, who is also the assistant director of alumni and parent Relations at the school, served as a volunteer assistant coach during the 2013-14 season.

“I am very thankful for the opportunity to give back to the sport, school and program that played such a large role in my development as both a player and a person,” said Sweezey, a three-year Purple Knights’ captain during her playing career from 2006-10, in a news release. “I look forward to working with the women on the team and helping them to be the best they can be, both on and off the ice.”

In addition to spending last winter on the St. Michael’s staff, Sweezey previously coached girls at the high school level in her native Massachusetts.

“Meghan understands what it means to be self-motivated, as she was an elite player at St. Michael’s, and this is the next step in her coaching,” added St. Michael’s head coach Chris Donovan. “The players have gotten to know her in the last year and respect what she has to say. I’m looking forward to working with her in a different capacity than previously.”

Offseason conditioning a top priority, especially after a humbling campaign

Morando Roberto Offseason conditioning a top priority, especially after a humbling campaign

For Boston University strength and conditioning coach Anthony Morando (left), forward Nick Roberto and the rest of the Terriers team, the offseason motto after a 10-21-4 finish is simple: “Never again.” (submitted photo)

Before last season, there was a palpable anticipation in the Boston University locker room.

There were new faces aplenty, starting with the program’s first new head coach since the 1970s. There was a group of ultra-talented raw hockey players, nine of whom were selected by NHL teams.

And there was the belief that a new crop of local talent could infuse a program and bring it back to heights last seen in the latter part of the last decade. The hope was to raise a banner similar to the one raised at Agganis Arena in 2009 and ones raised multiple times at the hated rival up the street at Boston College.

Any dream of raising a red and white championship banner ultimately failed and flopped on statistics alone, however. The Terriers limped to a 10-21-4 record, their worst winning percentage in 51 years.

Their win total was the lowest in 34 seasons, ultimately marking 2013-14 as one of the worst in BU’s history.

Once the curtain fell on their ninth-place regular season finish and first-round exit from the expanded Hockey East playoffs, it felt more to their fans like the final nail of an execution than it was a rebirth.

“We had a really great group of kids, and we still have a really great core that will have more success moving forward,” Terriers coach David Quinn said. “But there was a steep learning curve for that first year for all of us, and we all know a 10-21 record is not an acceptable season for Boston University.”

For BU, the scars from last year run deep into the program’s soul. Before last season, talk centered on how a group of Boston kids could infuse current talent in a sort of Terriers championship alchemy.

When that didn’t happen, the talk required a sort of refocus and a summer spent in the weight room getting ready for a new day.

Under the watchful eye of strength coach Anthony Morando, himself a greater Boston native of nearby Malden, Mass., and Malden Catholic, there’s been one creed and motto for the summer, emblazoned on their T-shirts:

“Never again.”

“Our goal [this offseason] is to get down to an individual level and make sure nobody ever outworks us,” Morando said. “That means looking at each member of the team and working day-in and day-out to ensure we can grind out every day.

“What happens in a game is a reflection of how we practice, and all of that is a reflection on the coaching staff. So it’s personal for us to make sure we’re putting the team in the position where they can win hockey games. This is a great group of players, and at the end of the day, my guys are my guys all the way. I want to see them win, so we have to make sure as a staff we’re putting them on the right path.”

For the Terriers, that means assistance from the higher powers of hockey.

While BU players past and present have honed their skills at NHL development camps across the United States and Canada, Morando, a Springfield College graduate, recently spent time with the San Jose Sharks and strength and conditioning coordinator Mike Potenza.

Potenza, himself a former Terriers graduate assistant in the early 2000s, joined San Jose after helping lead Wisconsin to national championships with both the men’s and women’s programs in 2006.

Morando Potenza Sharks Offseason conditioning a top priority, especially after a humbling campaign

Boston University strength and conditioning coach Anthony Morando (left) poses with Mike Potenza (center), his counterpart from the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, and Ken Hetzel of the Worcester Sharks (Submitted photo).

A former strength coach with Colgate, he now helps keep players healthy for playoff runs for a team that’s been playoff bound for 14 of the past 15 NHL seasons.

“The first thing we do [with the Sharks] is consider an assessment and evaluation of every player for any structural deficiencies,” Potenza said. “That allows us to plan and prescribe the right training at the individual level based on hockey qualities. The program has to meet requirements other than just having players sprint end to end. Forwards might have to sprint more but defensemen work more on footwork and turning so they can be quicker getting back [in transition].

“It’s a very detailed approach that gets certain players ready for the scenarios they’re more likely to see from the different elements found on the ice.”

At the NHL level, it’s hard to keep players at their best over what can amount to 100 games annually, including playoffs. But Potenza explained part of the challenge of conditioning is to “plan around the game schedule.”

“We have to make sure to prescribe any strength or supplemental training for guys based on ice time,” he said. “That means supplemental training for guys who play on the fourth line or who are more depth players on the roster. It’s more maintenance to their core work, and we’re addressing corrective action all the time to maintain and minimize any soft tissue injuries.”

That micromanagement approach is stressed through the development season and summer training.

“We evaluate a young man’s strengths and provide feedback as to where they’re at [physically],” Potenza said of the NHL’s development camps. “It helps to plan their development from a physical standpoint. We can work with them on their training habits, and for the college athletes, we work with how they warm up, get them to eat well, shop for the right food, and take care of themselves so they can regenerate their bodies quicker. That includes right down to their rest and their sleep pattern.

“We know [at the NHL level] that the bodies will develop and be there, so we really try to stress habits. Having been with college programs like Wisconsin and like BU, my goal is always to prepare by reinforcing those habits. From this level, it now gives me an opportunity to have great communication with guys like Anthony and be able to educate the collegiate systems as well as Canadian junior league players and even our minor league players.”

Now, that approach is coming back to offseason training in college hockey.

Morando Teaching Offseason conditioning a top priority, especially after a humbling campaign

Anthony Morando, left, goes through drills with Boston University players (submitted photo).

Boston University is no different.

“We’re always tweaking our system to be more player-specific,” said Quinn. “All the guys are here taking summer courses, and all 25 guys on our roster are working out on campus. We have some great depth where no one guy needs to carry the load, but our roster has guys who can step up on any night and provide what we need.

“Our success is going to be predicated on their progress, and the key is how our returnees play. We believe we can make the jump with the added talent that we have coming in with a solid freshman class.”

Terriers forward Nick Roberto, who will be a sophomore in the fall, said he has noticed an attitude change in the weight room this offseason.

“We’re a really tight group, but we’re trying to maintain a complete edge every day,” he said. “That means challenging one another and not being afraid to look at each other and ask for one more rep or 10 extra minutes.

“We all got along last year even through the tough times. We never got down on each other, and that’s something we’re using this year to drive us and make us even tougher and stronger before the season starts.”

In the modern day of college hockey, that’s a tougher challenge than in years past. There are more teams than ever before in BU’s league, with tougher competition for national title contention.

Hockey East finished with one of its tightest top packs last season — five points separated second place from eighth. Breaking back into that pack will be equally as tough as programs like Providence, New Hampshire, Maine, Notre Dame and Vermont continue to vie for spots in what may be the nation’s best top-to-bottom conference.

And while the 2009 banner will forever cast its shadow, traditions and history don’t win championships, evidenced by first-time kings Yale and Union in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

“One thing I learned is that you never really know what a head coach does on the job until it happens to you,” said Quinn. “There was a big learning curve in how to manage the extra non-hockey responsibilities, and it’s something that a coach can get caught up in. It’s tough to balance the on-ice practice and coaching with the recruiting aspects, which a coach has to be fully involved in. But with that year behind us, we’re ready to go and move forward to a new season.”

Said Roberto: “The goal [for BU hockey] doesn’t change but we know the way in which we approach our goal has to change. And that’s something that starts in the offseason every day that we’re working in the weight room and on the ice with our coaching staff.”

The best part about the offseason, Morando said, is gaining new knowledge.

“The guys on the ice are learning, and we’re always studying new methods for training and improvement,” Morando said. “That’s our commitment to them. We’re fully committed to them, and we’re all committed to BU hockey. We know that there will be success, but it starts now and we have to make sure we’re working hard each day to make it reality.”

NCAA agrees to settle head injury lawsuit with $70 million in concessions

In what has made news nationwide, the NCAA has agreed to settle a head injury lawsuit by providing $70 million for concussion testing and diagnosis of current and former student-athletes.

The class-action agreement, if approved by a federal judge and class members, applies to student-athletes in all sports who have played at NCAA member schools at any time in the past until 50 years in the future.

Former Maine player Kyle Solomon joined the lawsuit in 2013.

Solomon, who reportedly suffered four concussions while at Maine, said in February 2013 that plaintiff attorney Steve Berman’s law firm told him it wanted to “change the NCAA’s return-to-play policy and thought my situation at UMaine would be a good example. It wasn’t that [my concussions] weren’t treated. But they weren’t treated as seriously as they should have been because the NCAA didn’t have a [strong enough] rule in place.

“This is nothing against … Maine hockey. It was an honor to play for Maine. I loved playing for them. It was a shame it had to stop.”

The settlement does not include bodily injury claims, which Berman said should be handled on an individual basis.

“The whole goal of my clients is to change the way the NCAA handles concussions,” Berman told the Bangor Daily News. “We’re very hopeful this will cut down on the number of concussions and people returning to play too early.”

U.S. District Judge John Lee is not expected to make a decision on whether to grant the settlement preliminary approval until sometime in August, Berman added.

The settlement also calls for the NCAA to contribute $5 million for concussion research.

Former Northern Michigan player, hockey ops manager Lehtinen named new Wildcats’ assistant coach

Northern Michigan has named Rob Lehtinen an assistant coach, filling the vacancy created by the departure of Joe Shawhan to Michigan Tech.

“Rob is a going to be a tremendous asset to our program,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said in a statement. “He is a guy that played here, has worked here as our hockey ops guy for several years, and is totally committed to our program. He is a guy that I have long targeted as a future assistant and we are proud to add him to our coaching staff.”

Lehtinen was the hockey operations manager the past four seasons and was a four-year letterwinner at NMU from 2003 to 2007, playing in 156 games with 17 goals and 38 assists for 55 points.

“I am excited for this chance, this has been a goal of mine for a very long time and I feel like I am ready to make the next step in my career,” added Lehtinen. “I will be committed to using my past hockey experience to my advantage in helping develop student-athletes. My family and I feel truly blessed to begin my coaching career in my hometown among family and friends.”

Rud and Scanlan search for new paths to the top of the WCHA

Clarkson may have charted a new course in March to NCAA supremacy, but through the first 15 years of the WCHA, all roads to the championship of that league, regular or postseason, originated in Duluth, Madison, or Minneapolis. Until North Dakota’s recent rise to prominence yielded a second-place finish in the regular season and two trips to the conference final, other than Minnesota-Duluth, Wisconsin, or Minnesota, only Ohio State way back in the 2001 WCHA tournament could claim even as much as a WCHA runner-up.

Bemidji State and St. Cloud State are two of the programs still looking to bring home league hardware for the first time, and to date, they haven’t come all that close. SCSU’s third-place finish in 2010 was the highest either has finished in the standings, and that edition of the Huskies was defeated on home ice in the quarterfinals by none other than the Beavers, giving BSU its only taste of the semifinals. Ultimately, it proved to be a bitter taste, as the Beavers surrendered the first five goals while falling, 7-3 to Minnesota-Duluth.

The Huskies can top that Brazil-like, semifinal train wreck. Their only forays into the second round, in 2006 and 2008, culminated in identical 9-0 drubbings by Wisconsin and Minnesota-Duluth, respectively.

However, at least St. Cloud State has been able to experience playing, and even winning, on home ice in the playoffs. Bemidji hosted postseason action for the first time in March as the predetermined site of the WCHA Final Face-Off, but the Beavers didn’t advance to be an active participant.

Checking that off of the program’s to-do list is one of the first objectives of new head coach Jim Scanlan.

“Yes, securing home ice for the WCHA postseason will be our expectation, as it should be for every program in the league,” he said.

Scanlan followed that up with a quote from his coach back in his playing days at Bemidji State, Bob Peters. Peters said, “Shoot for the moon, if you miss, you land amongst the stars. Shoot for the barn door, if you miss, you land in the cow manure.” The metaphor may be better suited for another WCHA rival, the Minnesota State Mavericks, but we get the idea.

Scanlan’s opportunity to direct the Beavers came when Steve Sertich retired in March after eight seasons at the helm.

“I have followed the women’s WCHA and women’s college hockey since becoming the head girls hockey coach at East Grand Forks Senior High School,” Scanlan said. “I know that the WCHA is about as good as it gets when it comes to the overall quality of a conference. It is the home for some outstanding programs and very successful coaches, and it will be a tremendous challenge.”

One of the challenges will be coming up to speed on his own roster.

“I did follow the Beavers women’s program in terms of how they would do each weekend, but really have no familiarity with the players other than a few that we played against in the past,” Scanlan said. “I do know they were well-coached and played hard!”

Sertich was well-regarded around the WCHA and was recognized as league coach of the year in 2009-10.

“Coach Sertich and his staff did a great job of improving the women’s program overall, and it is certainly in a much better place then it was when they started,” Scanlan said.

Sertich’s assistant coaches return. Shane Veenker has been a member of the staff for seven seasons, and Amber Fryklund, like her new boss, played her college hockey at Bemidji State.

“I would say that I prefer to play an aggressive style of hockey in that we want to always be pressing,” Scanlan said. “We want to pressure the opponents when we don’t have the puck and we want to be attacking when we do.  It would be an up-tempo style predicated on everyone moving their feet and good puck movement. We will play ‘Beaver Hockey!’”

Many a coach would choose to play a similar style in an ideal world. The problem comes when opponents regularly enjoy greater benefit from an up-tempo game. Thirty players in the conference reached double digits in goals scored last season; none of them were Beavers. Scanlan and his assistants will look to leverage the perks of the Sanford Center, which opened in 2010.

“There is no question that the Sanford Center is a top-notch, first-class facility,” Scanlan said. “The locker room, training facilities, video and tech equipment are second to none. Bemidji State University has always been an outstanding academic institution located on a beautiful campus. The addition of the Sanford Center to this setting would be attractive to any student-athlete looking for a degree that will prepare them for the rest of their lives, while at the same time playing hockey at the highest level in the country.”

Until higher caliber talent can be coaxed to Bemidji, the success of the Beavers will be determined by how well Scanlan can do with the players already in place.

“When I say we want to raise the bar, I am referring to what our expectations will be and what we want to achieve as a team,” he said. “When a group of athletes can come together and become a team, when they can put the team’s needs before their own, the results can be pretty special. This group has that potential!”

Another team will be trying to find answers to very similar questions roughly 150 miles to the south in St. Cloud. Eric Rud takes over for previous Huskies coach Jeff Giesen, whose contract was not renewed. Rud has WCHA experience, most recently as an assistant to Scott Owens at his alma mater, Colorado College.

“I worked at St. Cloud State for five years on the men’s side, so I was around the women’s program quite a bit and got a chance to watch that program in action and see how hard the women worked,” Rud said. “I was always very impressed with their intensity level and where they were at.”

Given none of his current charges were at St. Cloud State when Rud last worked there back in 2009-10, it begs the question of how much does he know about his new team?

“Not much, which is kind of nice,” Rud said. “Obviously, the program is in search of a change and a new identity, and I’m perfectly happy going into the season and when practice starts, it’s a clean slate and everyone is going to get a chance to show what they can do and prove where they’re at in the landscape of where the team is at.”

During his playing days in the 1990s and for two separate coaching stints at Colorado College, the Tigers were known for a style that emphasized skating and skill.

“It always has been,” Rud said. “I like to coach that way; I like to watch the game that way. I think athletes really want to play that way. They want to get up and down the ice and make plays and get after it, so that’s the way we’re going to coach. That’s the way we’re going to recruit athletes that want to play that way also.”

Playing on an Olympic-sized ice sheet, the SCSU women do fine as far as skating goes, but in recent years, they’ve languished near the bottom of the national rankings in goalscoring. With the graduation of top scorers Molli Mott and Julia Gilbert, the top returning scorer is Abby Ness, who has tallied a total of 12 goals and 33 points in her first three college seasons.

“It’ll be interesting to see when we get started where we’re at offensively and what we need to improve on and try to find ways to score goals,” Rud said. “I’m the type of coach that when I watch video, I see the game as trying to create offense and not trying to stop the other team. That’s the way I want our staff to be and I want our women to play, to get up and down the rink and make plays. We obviously have a lot of work to do in trying to create offense, but I’m really excited for the challenge.”

Facilities will be a major selling point at St. Cloud State moving forward, thanks to a recent expansion and remodeling of the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center.

“I’ve been around a lot of locker rooms in college hockey and everywhere, and I’ll put our locker room up against most men’s programs in the country,” Rud said. “It’s a beautiful arena, our whole lounge and complex. Once the weight room gets finished, it’s really going to take a whole another leap. Our technology is second to none, so we really think we have a lot to offer for athletes that want to get better and improve.”

The difficulty of the Huskies’ schedule, which presents so many games versus nationally ranked teams, can be a blessing as well as a curse.

“I think that’s the challenge of coaching in a great league,” Rud said. “That’s one of the things that really got me enthused about taking this job. You want to coach against the best coaches and play against the best teams, and we want to recruit athletes that want to do the same, that want to play against the best and compete against the best. Obviously, we have our work cut out for us, but I think that’s the challenge of coaching. It’ll be fun to watch the process evolve.”

For a St. Cloud State team coming off of a last-place finish, there is nowhere to go but up.

“Really, it’s just going to be a work in progress,” Rud said. “Once we get started, we’re just going to see what we have, what we need to improve on. So I don’t have a blueprint right now. I think that’s part of coaching is seeing what you have and taking the best of whatever it is. The one thing I know is that ever since taking the job, our women are really excited to go. I can say this, they’re excited, they want to work, and we’re going to be a very competitive, hard-working team, and we’re just going to have to get as good as we can, as fast as we can.”

Worcester State turns to former Holy Cross assistant Toporowski

HCC Shayne Toporowski Worcester State turns to former Holy Cross assistant Toporowski

Shayne Toporowski moves to Worcester State after a season at Holy Cross (photo: Dan Hickling).

Shayne Toporowski has been named head coach at Worcester State, but he won’t have to move far.

Toporowski spent last season as an assistant coach at Holy Cross, also in Worcester, Mass., and Worcester State will move its home games to Holy Cross’ Hart Center.

Toporowski replaces John Guiney, who resigned last month after a 22-year career with Worcester State.

An 18-year professional player, Toporowski also is president and director of hockey operations at Competitive Goals Hockey Training in Marlboro, Mass.

He played in three NHL games to go along with stints in the AHL, CHL and European leagues.

“I am very excited for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to learn and play under Shayne,” Worcester State athletic director Michael Mudd said in a release. “Shayne’s reputation as a teacher of the game to local elite youth, high school, college and professional players is outstanding.”

The Lancers were 9-15-1 last season and have not had a winning season since 1997-98.

Guiney had a 161-340-34 record and only two winning campaigns in 22 seasons at his alma mater. He led the transition from the ECAC Northeast to the MASCAC for the 2009-10 season.

At Holy Cross, Toporowski was involved with recruiting and scouting in addition to on-ice duties.

“This is a great opportunity to take the Lancers in a new direction,” Toporowski in a release. “I am excited to be named the new head coach of the men’s ice hockey team. I am eager to share and instill some of the great concepts that I have learned throughout my professional career as a player and a coach.”

St. Norbert hires Martalock as assistant women’s coach

Kelsea Martalock is moving from Wisconsin-Stevens Point to be an assistant coach for the St. Norbert women’s team.

Martalock, who split four collegiate playing seasons between Bethel and Stevens Point, spent the last three seasons with the Pointers.

Her assistant coaching duties included coordinating strength and conditioning.

As part of an internship in the summer of 2012, Martalock organized and conducted off-ice training at Wisconsin. She is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and is researching for a manuscript on training, anaerobic power and performance enhancement specific to women’s hockey.

“Kelsea’s coaching experience and training elite student-athletes will be a great addition to our program,” St. Norbert coach Rob Morgan said in a release. “We are really excited for Kelsea to be joining our staff. Our student-athletes are going to benefit from her passion, work ethic, knowledge and leadership.”

Martalock replaces Amanda Trunzo.

Colgate promotes Harder from volunteer assistant to assistant coach

Colgate has promoted Mike Harder from volunteer assistant to assistant coach for the 2014-15 season.

“Mike Harder is the obvious choice and the best person for this job,” Colgate head coach Don Vaughan said in a news release. “I know I speak on behalf of the coaches and our student-athletes when I say that I am very excited that Mike will be joining our staff on a full-time basis.

“He brings a wealth of knowledge from his experiences as a professional hockey player and coach in both North America and Europe. We saw that in action last year in his role as our volunteer assistant, and his impact on the success of our team was very obvious. He has the respect of our team members, and his transition from volunteer to full-time assistant will be seamless.”

Harder, who was an All-American at Colgate, graduating in 1997, joins Vaughan and fellow assistant coach Jason Lefevre to make up the Raiders’ coaching staff.

“The team culture the staff has created makes this an incredible opportunity to walk into,” Harder added. “I’m looking forward to joining forces with Coach Vaughan and Coach Lefevre to help this team realize its full potential.

“I was fortunate to be part of Coach Vaughan’s first recruiting class and loved playing for him. It shaped how I see the game and I’m thrilled to be returning to Colgate in this new role.”

St. Lawrence assistant Mayotte joins Providence in similar role

Providence announced Wednesday the hiring of Kris Mayotte as an assistant coach.

Mayotte spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at St. Lawrence where he served as the primary recruiter and worked closely with the goaltenders and penalty kill unit. Prior to St. Lawrence, he was a volunteer assistant coach at Cornell (2011-12) and a full-time goalie coach in Maryland (2010-11).

“Kris has developed into a bright young hockey mind that our players are going to benefit greatly from working with,” Providence head coach Nate Leaman said in a statement. “A tireless recruiter, he will work with all aspects of our program, including the goaltenders. He has a tremendous work ethic and a positive energy that will bring a lot to our program.”

“I have certainly followed Coach Leaman’s career and been impressed with the success of his Friar teams over the past few seasons and I could not be more excited to join the team and help to continue building on that success,” Mayotte added. “It is a great time to be part of the hockey program at Providence College and I am ready to get to work with the players and staff.”

As a college player, Mayotte was Union’s starting goaltender from 2002 to 2006. His final three seasons at Union included the first three seasons of Leaman’s tenure as Union head coach.

After college, Mayotte spent five seasons playing professionally in the American Hockey League, ECHL and Central Hockey League.

Another title under the belt for former Neumann forward Hedden as KHL awaits

hedden1 Another title under the belt for former Neumann forward Hedden as KHL awaits

Mike Hedden helped Neumann win the 2009 NCAA Division III title, then won the AHL’s Calder Cup with Texas (photo: Neumann Athletics).

Mike Hedden can tell you what it’s like to win a major championship. He’s already done it twice.

The former Neumann forward, who guided the Knights to the 2009 NCAA Division III national title, will be adding a second ring to his championship collection after helping the Texas Stars win the 2014 Calder Cup, emblematic of American Hockey League supremacy.

“It feels great,” Hedden said in June while driving back home to Ontario shortly after the AHL final. “This one probably tops the list as the best one, though.”

The top minor-league affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, Texas defeated the St. John’s IceCaps in five games, with Hedden playing a substantial part in the deciding contest.

“He’s a really good player,” former Texas coach Willie Desjardins said after the Stars won the Cup. “He’s improved both years, and he scored a couple of really big goals in the final game.”

In Game 5 in Newfoundland, Hedden opened the scoring late in the first period and then pulled Texas into a 3-3 tie with a goal in the third stanza before the Stars won the contest — and the title — in overtime.

“He has good skills, and he was a big factor in our team winning,” said Desjardins, now the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

Simply par for the course for Hedden, who tallied a school-record 96 goals and added 67 assists for 163 points in 108 games at Neumann from 2005 to 2009. He also scored 46 power-play goals and added 15 game-winners with the Knights after playing junior hockey with the Thorold (Ontario) Blackhawks.

“Mike was a threat every time he stepped on the ice and was a big part of building the foundation of the Neumann program,” said Knights coach Dominick Dawes, who coached Hedden in his final collegiate season when Neumann won the national championship.

As a senior, Hedden scored 17 goals and added 20 assists. He also helped the Knights to their first-ever Frozen Four after notching a goal and two assists in an NCAA tournament victory at Plattsburgh, setting up the tying goal late in regulation before the Knights won 5-4 in overtime. They then went on to best Hobart and Gustavus Adolphus to win it all.

“It was an amazing experience,” he said of Neumann, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in sport management. “It’s a small school. You got to know everyone personally, and [then we] topped it off with a national championship.”

hedden2 Another title under the belt for former Neumann forward Hedden as KHL awaits

Mike Hedden’s college career launched a pro career that will take him to Europe next season (photo: Todd Bissonette/Neumann Athletics).

For Hedden, it was literally Neumann or nowhere.

“Actually, Neumann was the only school that contacted me while I was playing Junior B, in the All-Ontario final,” he said. “If [former Neumann coach] Dennis Williams didn’t come [to that game], I probably would have been done at 20.”

Almost a decade later, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Hedden is still going strong on his skates.

A player from Division III making it to the pros is not an unusual occurrence, but it’s often tougher for him to ascend to the higher levels. Those AHL and NHL slots usually go to college players who skated in the Division I ranks, although Keith Aucoin has played in nearly 150 NHL games over the last decade after previously starring at Norwich.

Hedden made the transition to the AHL level by first playing two seasons with the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.

“I never really thought I would have the opportunity,” he said. “[Toledo coach] Nick Vitucci really gave me a chance. I went to training camp and earned a spot.”

Hedden notched 50 goals and 84 points in his two-year tenure with Toledo and also played in a total of six AHL games with Grand Rapids, Rockford and Rochester in 2010-11.

His professional career continued to flourish after he signed an AHL deal with Texas.

“It’s a big adjustment, with the speed and the level of play,” he said. “You can adapt pretty quickly if you’re given the opportunity.”

He again took an opportunity and ran with it, putting up 34 points in 69 games in his first full campaign with the Stars. He added 35 points in 61 games a year later, was subsequently invited to Dallas’ NHL training camp last fall and then exploded last season with career highs of 23-32–55 in 74 regular season AHL appearances.

“On any given night we have over 4,000 fans,” Hedden said of playing at the 6,800-seat Cedar Park Center in Cedar Park, Texas, outside of Austin. “It doesn’t seem like a hockey town, but it is — and playing with 90-degree weather is tough to beat.”

Come playoff time, Hedden registered nine goals and 19 points in 21 outings before the Stars skated the Calder Cup around the Mile One Centre in Newfoundland on June 17. He finished with three goals and an assist in the final, with more than a few people back in Aston, Pa., keeping tabs on his trek.

“It has been exciting for the Neumann community to follow his career and the Texas Stars’ run to the Calder Cup,” Dawes said. “We’re very fortunate to have a numbers of guys achieve success and win championships at different levels of professional hockey.”

Almost two dozen former Knights players have gone on to skate professionally, either in the minors or in Europe, and Hedden will soon have accomplished both. He won’t be back in the Lone Star State next season — he signed a one-year contract to play with Medvešcak Zagreb of the Kontinental Hockey League for 2014-15.

He also won’t have a lot of time at home in Canada before embarking upon the next leg of his career in Croatia.

“I have to be there by July 28, so it’s not much of a summer,” he said.

He won’t be going solo, as his girlfriend from Texas will be joining him overseas. Winning the Calder Cup this year also made his decision to move on a bit easier.

“I thought about it the last two years,” Hedden said of playing in Europe. “I’m 29, and I want to try to enjoy some of the world and play hockey while I can.”

And perhaps add another championship to his trophy case.

Ex-New Hampshire women’s coach McCloskey indicted on simple assault, criminal threatening

According to Foster’s Daily Democrat, former New Hampshire women’s coach Brian McCloskey has been indicted on three charges of simple assault and one charge of criminal threatening following an incident with a player last fall.

Allegedly, during a Nov. 30 loss to Ohio State, McCloskey said he grabbed the back of the player’s jersey and reprimanded her for talking back and not listening to direction, leading UNH to fire McCloskey for what it deemed “inappropriate physical contact” with the player.

Indictments from the Strafford County Superior Court show McCloskey has been charged with three counts of simple assault for “placing his body on top her body,” as well as pulling backward on her jersey and pushing and/or pulling the cage of her helmet. Each of these charges are Class A misdemeanors with a potential sentence of 12 months in jail and a $2,000 fine. McCloskey’s charge of criminal threatening is for grabbing the victim’s face while shouting that she couldn’t talk to him “like that,” as well as other expletives, also a Class A misdemeanor with the potential sentence as the simple assault charges.

McCloskey has been out on $1,000 bail since June 6 and has been ordered to have no contact with the victim or her family, according to the report. A plea/status hearing is set for Aug. 15.

In a letter to University of New Hampshire board of trustees chair Pamela Diamantis, McCloskey urged school officials to review the process taken by UNH that ultimately led to his termination. He added that in his 27 years as a Division I coach, he has never had a single incident of “inappropriate physical contact” and also asked for a public apology that has never been issued.

McCloskey has since been replaced as UNH’s head coach by Hillary Witt.

Becker names former Utica assistant, player Kelley as first women’s coach

Becker has announced that Eliza Kelley will be the first women’s head coach for the Hawks.

“I am humbled and extremely excited to have the opportunity to begin the women’s ice hockey program at Becker College,” Kelley said in a news release. “Becker has built a reputation of attracting quality student-athletes to its programs and I look forward to growing both that repute and the great game of ice hockey in such a supportive environment.”

Kelley comes to Becker after spending the last four seasons as an assistant coach at Utica, where she also played from 2007 to 2010.

“Eliza Kelley brings experience as both a player and coach at the women’s Division III level,” added Becker director of athletics Frank Millerick. “She has earned the reputation as a relentless recruiter and her winning attitude will help Becker’s women’s ice hockey program come out strong in its first season.”

Rules changes for 2014-15 season approved by NCAA oversight panel

2012112322 49 06190 Rules changes for 2014 15 season approved by NCAA oversight panel

WCHA referee Scott Bokal works during a Nov. 23, 2012, game in Duluth, Minn. (photo: Jim Rosvold).

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel has given the thumbs-up to a number of changes proposed in June by the Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Rules Committee.

It also approved an option for officials to assess a major penalty for interference to penalize significant contact that occurs away from the head and neck.

That change wasn’t included in initial recommendations made public by the hockey rules committee and has more of a procedural impact in which penalty call is used by referees.

Among the changes are added scenarios for the use of video replay, including on plays where skaters may have been offside or a team had too many players on the ice.

Goals also may be reviewed to determine if they were scored before a penalty occurred, and video from any source available to game officials now may be used. Previously, only video from television broadcasts was allowed.

The other rule changes to be made for the 2014-15 season, according to the NCAA:

Major penalty for interference: To assist officials in properly penalizing significant contact — particularly blindside hits — that is not to the head or neck area, the panel approved the addition of a major penalty for interference.

Hand pass by faceoff player: The players taking a faceoff are no longer allowed to use their hand to play the puck. A violation of this rule will result in a minor penalty, similar to the NHL rule.

Faceoff procedure: During end zone faceoffs, the defending team’s player is required to put their stick down first. Previously, the attacking team was required to do so. Center ice and neutral zone faceoffs will continue to require the visiting team to put their stick down first.

Goal pegs: 10-inch goal pegs that are anchored into the ice or floor must be in place at all NCAA levels by the 2016-17 season.

Faceoff location (offensive scoring opportunity): If the offensive team is attempting to score and the puck goes out of play, the faceoff will remain in the attacking zone.

Faceoff location (high stick/hand pass): In these cases, the ensuing faceoff will be one zone closer to the offending team’s goal.

Penalty shot/shootout: During a shootout or penalty shot, if the goal becomes dislodged by the goalkeeper, the referee can either award a goal (if intentional, or if the goal was obvious and imminent) or allow the team to shoot again.

Penalty shot: If a player who is awarded a penalty shot is injured and unable to take the shot, one of the players on the ice at the time of the infraction will be chosen to shoot.

Look-Up Line: The committee approved the use of a warning-track-style line intended to positively impact safety near the boards. The installation of this line will not be mandatory, but is permissible.

Experimental women’s rule: The panel also approved an experimental rule in women’s ice hockey only to allow the puck to be played legally with a high stick.

Robert Morris coach Schooley gets contract extension through 2019-20 season


DSC 0872 Robert Morris coach Schooley gets contract extension through 2019 20 season

Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley lifts the Atlantic Hockey championship trophy (photo: Omar Phillips).

Robert Morris head coach Derek Schooley has agreed to a four-year contract extension with RMU that will take him through the 2019-20 season.

Schooley was previously under contract through 2015-16.

“We’re delighted to extend Coach Schooley’s contract into the next decade,” RMU athletic director Dr. Craig Coleman said in a news release. “He’s the founder of the program and he has consistently pushed it to higher and higher levels. With him, the NCAA tournament hasn’t seen the last of us.”

Schooley’s overall record of 143-175-45 covers the program’s climb from its inaugural campaign of 2004-05 to its perch as defending Atlantic Hockey conference champion. Last season, the Colonials rebounded from a 2-12-2 start to win 17 of their last 26 games, including a 6-1 run in the AHA postseason tournament.

“I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Coleman and [RMU president] Dr. [Gregory] Dell’Omo for their incredible support of Robert Morris hockey and our student-athletes over the years,” Schooley added. “Their efforts make it possible for our program to achieve the goals we set for ourselves, whether they be on a daily basis or in the form of conference championships and NCAA tournament appearances.”

Although RMU fell to top-ranked Minnesota in the first round of the 2014 NCAA tournament, getting to the round of 16 was a large step for the second-youngest program in Division I.

“I feel very fortunate to have started something very special from the ground up,” Schooley said. “Making the NCAA tournament was very exciting for not only me personally, but for everyone who has been involved in the first decade of RMU hockey.

“It’s hard to believe that we have been in existence for 10 years. It seems like we just started Year 1 yesterday.”

Former North Dakota coach May passes away at 87

Legendary North Dakota coach Dr. Robert May passed away Sunday, July 20, at the age of 87 due to pulmonary fibrosis.

May coached North Dakota during the 1957-58 and 1958-59 seasons and in his second season, led the Fighting Sioux to the first NCAA championship in program history. he went 45-17-2 in his two seasons behind UND’s bench and guided the program to the national championship game both years.

May also played at UND during the 1949-50 and 1950-51 seasons, appearing in 47 games as a defenseman and serving as team captain in his final season. May received his bachelor’s degree from UND in 1951.

“As both a player and coach, Bob May had a major impact on the University of North Dakota hockey program,” current UND coach Dave Hakstol said in a statement. “His contributions truly make him a builder of the success, history and tradition of our program. Beyond hockey, he was highly respected in both his career in dentistry, as well as a tremendous family man. He will be greatly missed.”

May is a dual inductee into the UND Letterwinners Association Hall of Fame, having been recognized in 1981 as an individual and in 2002 with his national championship team. He is also a charter member of the Minnesota Girls Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame and was inducted in 2013.

A colonel in the United States Army, May was a devoted husband for 64 years, grandfather and great-grandfather. He also served a stint as team dentist for the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars, authored four books and invented the first custom-fit mouthpiece. His coaching career also included high school stints in Minnesota at Minneapolis Roosevelt (boys) and Wayzata (girls).

“More than anything, he was a member of UND and carried relationships with many former players and coaches,” said May’s grandson, Dr. Zach Eakman, in an email to the UND athletics department Monday morning. “My grandpa (‘papa,’ as I call him) wore his championship ring from the day he got it until the day he passed.”

No funeral arrangements were announced in the North Dakota press release.

Mercyhurst tabs former Niagara goalie, coach, and Princeton assistant Gardner to men’s coaching staff

Mercyhurst has named Greg Gardner an assistant coach with the Lakers’ men’s team for the 2014-15 season.

Gardner replaces former assistant Peter Aubry, who took a position at Lake Superior State earlier this month.

“We are very excited to add Greg to our staff,” said Mercyhurst head coach Rick Gotkin in a statement. “We would like to welcome him, his wife Lauren, and their family to Mercyhurst University and to our hockey family. He has proven himself as a great student-athlete, a great professional player, and a terrific coach and we are looking forward to everything he will contribute to our men’s hockey program.”

“I want to personally thank Rick Gotkin and [associate head coach] Robert Ferraris for this great opportunity to coach with the Mercyhurst hockey program,” added Gardner. “My family and I are looking forward to making Erie our new home. Mercyhurst has such a great reputation nationally and I am both excited and grateful to be part of the program. I’m looking forward to competing for an Atlantic Hockey championship and NCAA berth this year.”

Gardner spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Princeton, where he was responsible for coordinating and monitoring all aspects of the recruiting process and overall team and individual player development and physical conditioning.

Prior to joining Princeton’s coaching staff, Gardner spent five seasons (2006-11) as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Niagara.

Gardner was a standout goaltender for Niagara from 1996 to 2000, graduating Cum Laude from the school in 2000 with a degree in commerce (marketing concentration) and a minor in psychology. On the ice, he led the NCAA in goals against average during the 1999-2000 season (1.53), setting an NCAA record for shutouts in a season (12) in the process. That year, he was named the CHA player of the year and led the Purple Eagles to the CHA regular-season and tournament titles and an appearance in the NCAA tournament.

After graduating from Niagara, he became the first-ever player signed to an NHL contract by the then-expansion Columbus Blue Jackets. He was also the first player signed to an NHL contract from Niagara.

During his seven-year professional career, Gardner spent time in the American Hockey League, ECHL and in Germany.

New Hampshire women add former Castleton coach Bowes as new assistant coach

New Hampshire announced recently that Bill Bowes has been hired as a new assistant coach for the Wildcats’ women’s program.

Bowes comes to UNH from Castleton, where as head coach he led the Spartans to a single-season high 16 wins last season when Castleton finished as ECAC East runner-up and two student-athletes became the first in program history to receive All-America recognition.

“I am thrilled to accept this position at the University of New Hampshire,” Bowes said in a news release. “I feel extremely fortunate to have this opportunity of working with the elite women’s hockey players of the world and the chance to work with two of the best and brightest women coaches (head coach Hillary Witt and assistant Stephanie Jones) in the game today.

“My name is one of the most famous names in UNH coaching history and I have had nothing to do with it. My hope is that I can do my small part to help make the name Hilary Witt as revered and respected as the former UNH football coach.”

Castleton associate dean for athletics and recreation Deanna Tyson praised Bowes for his work at the school.

“Bill guided our women’s hockey program to another level in his three seasons here,” said Tyson in a statement. “Our student-athletes gained national recognition on the ice and excelled in the classroom and the community under his leadership. He will be greatly missed and I wish him all the best at UNH.”

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