Kleinendorst replaces Luongo as Alabama-Huntsville coach

Chris Luongo has resigned as Alabama-Huntsville’s head coach and the school replaced him with former NHL and AHL coach Kurt Kleinendorst, UAH announced Tuesday night.

Luongo was 6-54-3 in two turbulent seasons with the Chargers after being the team’s assistant coach for two seasons.

Alabama-Huntsville’s varsity program, an independent since the demise of the CHA after the 2009-10 season, was slated for termination last October before the school reconsidered. The Chargers, however, had to rebuild their schedule and host only two games this season against Division I competition.

Kleinendorst, meanwhile, led the Binghamton Senators to the AHL championship in 2011 in the first year of a two-year stint as head coach. He also has been a head coach with the AHL’s Lowell Devils and with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.

He was an assistant coach for the NHL’s New Jersey Devils for nine years, winning a Stanley Cup in 2000.

“We believe Kurt Kleinendorst’s experience coaching at the highest levels of the National Team Development Program and professional ice hockey, and the discipline he will bring to the program on and off the ice, will create an environment that will allow us to enhance our status in Division I hockey as he takes over the reins as head coach,” Alabama-Huntsville athletic director E.J. Brophy said in a statement.

“Our program is at a critical juncture in its history, and our best opportunity to maintain our tradition of competitive ice hockey lies with Kurt Kleinendorst.”

A Hobey Baker Award finalist at Providence in 1983, Kleinendorst played minor league hockey through 1990.

He inherits a program that finished 2-27-1 last season and has big issues to face off the ice.

“During my 30-plus year association with Kurt Kleinendorst, I have been fortunate to watch him develop as a student-athlete, player, scout and coach at various levels,” New Jersey Devils general manager and former Providence coach Lou Lamoriello said in a statement. “There is no question in my mind that Kurt will be a decided asset to the University of Alabama-Huntsville hockey team both on and off the ice, and help UAH in their pursuit of a major Division I hockey conference affiliation.”