After serving this past season as the associate head coach of the Wentworth hockey team, R.J. Tolan today was named the fifth head coach in the program’s varsity (1992-present) history. Tolan replaces Jonathan Deptula, who stepped aside at the conclusion of the 2005-06 season to pursue opportunities outside of coaching.
In making the announcement, director of athletics Lee Conrad said, “R.J. has a solid background as both a player and as an assistant coach and his experience will help to continue the fine tradition of Wentworth’s ice hockey program. I am confident that his players will be highly competitive and represent Wentworth in a positive manner, both on and off the ice.”
“I feel extremely fortunate to continue and advance my position within the Wentworth family,” said Tolan. “What I bring as a young coach is a hunger to communicate the love, passion, and knowledge that has been conveyed to me by great people and coaches.”
A native of Waltham, Mass., Tolan, 28, worked primarily with the Leopard defense and penalty-kill units last season, as well as assisting Deptula in all facets of the program, including recruiting and advance scouting.
A former defenseman at Mass.-Lowell, Tolan arrived at Wentworth in the fall of 2005 after spending a season as an assistant men’s hockey coach at neighboring Northeastern University. While at Northeastern, he assisted former head coach Bruce Crowder in all areas of coaching, including heading up the team’s video and scouting efforts. The Huskies finished the 2004-05 campaign with a 15-18-5 record which included making their first appearance in the Hockey East Tournament since 2002.
Prior to coaching at Northeastern, Tolan served as an assistant coach at Bentley College (2003-04) and as an assistant coach of the Boston Bulldogs Junior Hockey Club (2002-03) — the team he played for before attending UMass Lowell. Many of the recruits he landed while at Bentley were a part of this year’s Falcon squad that advanced to the championship game of the Atlantic Hockey Association Tournament.
Tolan was a walk-on defenseman at UML and would play in 56 career games in four seasons under head coaches Tim Whitehead (1998-2001) and Blaise MacDonald (2001-02). During his junior season, he scored three points (two goals, one assist) in 31 games. A neck injury limited his playing time to 14 games as a senior, a season in which the River Hawks finished 22-13-3 and advanced to the semifinals of the Hockey East Tournament. He graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
“R.J. brings a lot of experience and passion to the program,” said associate director of athletics Bill Gorman. “He has played for and coached under top-notch college coaches and has been able to learn a lot from them. His experiences with them, combined with the familiarity of our program will help continue the program’s winning ways and take us to the next level.”
Wentworth, which has won ECAC Northeast Championships in 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2004, is coming off a 14-12 season which ended with a 6-5, overtime loss at Nichols in the ECAC Northeast quarterfinals. In that game, the Leopards trailed 5-0 before mounting a five-goal comeback in a span of 13:40 to tie the game and send it to an extra session before the Bison ended Wentworth’s six-year run of advancing to the league semifinals with a goal at 2:16 of overtime.
“Coach Deptula has left a great blueprint for me to continue a positive culture for our student-athletes,” added Tolan. “Wentworth has a very good hockey tradition that will continue with the nucleus of players returning; they are eager to learn and have an unparalleled work ethic.”
Tolan, whose tenure officially begins on Aug. 14, will also serve as the department’s strength and conditioning coordinator, coordinating fitness program’s for all 14 of Wentworth’s varsity sports. The Leopards open the 2006-07 campaign on Tuesday, Nov. 7, against ECAC Northeast foe Worcester State, at Matthews Arena.