The hazy off-season coaching carousel picture in men’s ice hockey became a little more clear today when Fairfield University officially announced the resignation of head hockey coach Mark Dennehy, confirming a story that originally appeared on U.S. College Hockey Online.
After coaching the Stags for only one season, Dennehy leaves to become assistant coach at Mass.-Amherst under newly-appointed coach Don Cahoon.
Though an official announcement of a replacement will not be made until Monday, sources tell U.S. College Hockey Online that Jim Hunt, current assistant coach of the Under-17 U.S. National Development Team, will succeed Dennehy.
“We appreciate all that Mark Dennehy has done in directing our hockey program and wish him well in his new endeavors,” said Fairfield athletic director Gene Doris.
Dennehy led the Stags to a 3-28-3 record this past season, but the record was not indicative of the young coach’s success. When arriving at Fairfield, the team was coming off a 1-31-0 record in a season that saw the Stags outscored 227-64 by opponents. Though the Stags’ record did not show significant improvement, goal differential did – as Dennehy’s team closed the gap to 183-78, a net improvement of 58 goals.
Hunt, who has also coached high school and junior hockey in the New Jersey area before joining USA Hockey, will face the challenge of not only developing a more competitive team, but also closing the gap between the top and bottom of the MAAC.
During the 1998-99 campaign, the MAAC lacked parity for the most part, with four clubs, Connecticut, Quinnipiac, Holy Cross and Canisius, dominating much of the league. Last season, this gap closed significantly, with Sacred Heart climbing into the top of the standings and Iona College reaching the MAAC Tournament finals.
Fairfield’s strong recruiting prior to last year brought in a host of young scorers, led by Rae Metz, who earned MAAC All-Rookie honors. But Hunt, who was unable to be reached today for comment, will need to develop a young defensive corps while recruiting goaltending, defense and forwards that can compete at the Division I level.