Syracuse Women Complete Staff for Inaugural Season

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Syracuse University head coach Paul Flanagan has taken another step in building the Orange women’s ice hockey program, naming his coaching staff on Thursday. Graham Thomas a former professional player, and Erin O’Brien a two-time All-American at Plattsburgh State, will serve as assistant coaches, working with all phases of the program.

“I’m very excited to have Graham and Erin join our staff,” Flanagan said. “Graham’s experience as a former player and his background in strength and conditioning will certainly benefit the program. He has a wealth of knowledge, having worked at every level of hockey, and a great enthusiasm for the game. Erin is a perfect fit for our program because of her NCAA playing experience and her coaching experience. She will make an immediate impact on our program and will be a role model for our student-athletes.”

Thomas was the head coach and operations manager for the SAIT Trojans women’s hockey program in 2007 where he led the squad to a 26-8-2 record and a tie for first place in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. In addition, Thomas served as the head coach of the Hockey Alberta Program of Excellence Under-16 team in the spring of 2007. He has also served as an assistant coach for the South West Athletic Association — Midget AAA squad and as the video coach for the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. Since 2007, Thomas has been a member of the National Sports Academy, Calgary, Alberta staff, where he served as a coach and classroom instructor, a strength and conditioning specialist and a video analysis coach. Thomas played for the Mannheim Jung Adler, a professional team in Germany, from 1998-99, and the Drayton Valley Thunder from 1997-98. Thomas earned his bachelor’s degree in applied business entrepreneurship from Mount Royal College. He is a certified personal trainer by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

O’Brien has served as an assistant coach at Plattsburgh State for the past three seasons, helping the Cardinals win the 2007 and 2008 NCAA Division III national championships. She was involved in administrative aspects of the program, including recruiting, scouting opponents, video analysis and monitoring student-athlete academic progress. In addition, O’Brien served as an instructor in the Sport and Wellness Department. She has also served as a counselor at several camps. A 2005 graduate of Plattsburgh, O’Brien earned first-team All-America honors as senior after leading the Cardinals to the national semifinals. She was an All-America Second Team honoree as a junior and a four-time All-ECAC West First Team selection. O’Brien earned her bachelor’s degree in childhood education. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in education.

The Syracuse women’s ice hockey program makes its debut this fall when it plays its inaugural season in 2008-09.