Maine wasted no time naming Tim Whitehead its permanent head coach, signing him to a new deal Monday. The announcement came from athletic director Sue Tyler during the team’s welcome rally at Alfond Arena.
Whitehead had previously been interim coach, his appointment coming after Shawn Walsh died from complications due to kidney cancer last September.
After beginning the season with a 3-4-2 record, Whitehead’s squad recovered to tie for second in Hockey East. In the NCAA tournament, the Black Bears advanced without a bye to the Frozen Four, where they avenged a Hockey East title-game loss to New Hampshire with a 7-2 victory in the national semifinals.
Overall, Whitehead led the Black Bears to a 26-11-8 record and an appearance in the NCAA title game, where they lost to Minnesota, 4-3, in overtime Saturday.
Whitehead is only the third coach in Maine history. He spent five seasons as head coach at UMass-Lowell, compiling a 76-95-12 record and guiding the River Hawks to three Hockey East final four appearances. Whitehead served as an assistant coach at Lowell for five seasons, and also spent one year on Walsh’s staff at Maine.
“Tim came to UMaine with a proven track record as a head coach,” said Tyler. “He then led the Black Bears to within a minute of a national championship. He certainly proved he can be a successful UMaine coach.”
Working with university president Peter Hoff, Tyler sought and received a waiver from the University system guidelines that require an open search for the coaching position.
Whitehead is 102-106-18 six years as a head coach. He is a finalist for the 2002 Spencer Penrose Award, presented to the nation’s top college hockey coach. Whitehead was also an assistant at Maine during the 1990-91 season.
Terms of Whitehead’s contract have not been finalized.