Former St. John’s men’s coach, 1980 Olympian Harrington tapped to lead Minnesota State women’s team

John Harrington has been named head coach of the Minnesota State women’s hockey program.

“We are thrilled to attract someone of John’s caliber to our program,” said Minnesota State director of athletics Kevin Buisman in a news release. “The depth of playing and coaching experience that he brings will be a major asset. John’s name is well-recognized throughout the hockey community, providing instant credibility and opening new doors for us in the recruitment process. Coach Harrington’s leadership marks the start of an exciting new era for Maverick women’s hockey.”

Harrington was formerly the men’s hockey coach at St. John’s from 1993 to 2008 and led the Johnnies to a 241-142-31 record with four MIAC playoff and five regular-season titles, along with five NCAA tournament appearances.

Harrington, who has spent the last four years serving as an amateur scout for the National Hockey League’s Colorado Avalanche, was the head coach of Asiago in the Italian National League from 2009 t0 2011 and head coach for Ambri-Piotta in the Swiss National League in 2008. The Virginia, Minn., native also served a stint as associate head coach with the men’s program at St. Cloud State from 1990 to 1993 and as an assistant coach with Denver from 1984 to 1990.

A 1979 Minnesota-Duluth grad where he played four seasons with the men’s hockey program, Harrington was a member of the United States men’s hockey team that captured the gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“I think it is exciting for Minnesota State and the Maverick women’s hockey program,” added Wisconsin women’s coach Mark Johnson, also a teammate of Harrington on the 1980 Olympic team, in a statement. “John has a real deep background in the coaching world, whether it is at the Division I level or the Division III level. He understands college hockey and he’s got a history with the WCHA. Certainly he has a history at the Division III level with what it takes to be successful. It bodes well for our league to bring in an experienced, veteran coach.”

“While I have never had the privilege to work directly with John, I am certainly familiar with his strong reputation across the sport,” said Bethel women’s coach Natalie Darwitz in another statement. “Based on what others have related about their personal experiences with John, I believe this is an excellent hire for Minnesota State and that it will be well supported in the hockey community. I am familiar enough to know that John has a high character family and that integrity will be part of the culture he brings as a head coach. As a female hockey player, I always wanted to be coached by someone who has ‘been there, done that’ and in that context, John brings great credibility. The Maverick women’s hockey program is craving success, and I think Coach Harrington can help lead them in that direction.”

A press conference will be scheduled later this month to formally introduce Harrington.