Former Robert Morris assistant Nicholson back in Atlantic Hockey as new Niagara assistant

Niagara announced on Friday the hiring of Matt Nicholson as the Purple Eagles’ new assistant coach.

Nicholson spent the past two seasons as the head coach of the Amarillo Bulls in the NAHL.

No stranger to the college ranks, Nicholson is also familiar with Atlantic Hockey, having spent six seasons on the Robert Morris staff. After beginning his coaching career at Division III powerhouse Adrian in 2007, Nicholson was named an assistant coach at Robert Morris in 2009, spending four years in that role before being promoted to associate head coach in 2013.

“Matt is a man of outstanding character who has a passion for developing people and players,” said Niagara head coach Jason Lammers in a news release. “Matt’s head coaching experience, his deep knowledge of Atlantic Hockey, and his familiarity with the local Ontario region will all be tremendous assets to our team at Niagara.”

“The opportunity to join Niagara University and work alongside Coach Lammers and Andy Boschetto is something I’m looking forward to,” added Nicholson. “Having coached in Atlantic Hockey for six years with RMU, I’m well aware of the quality of the coaches, players and teams. Every game is a battle, and the parity within the conference is really a selling point for the student-athletes.”

According to a release from the NAHL, Nicholson will now be closer to his mother in London, Ont., as she recovers from recent brain surgery.

“I lost my dad in 2011 and in January, my mom had a kiwi-sized brain tumor removed,” Nicholson said. “She is progressing well and on the road to recovery. However, Niagara University is 130 miles away from my hometown of London, Ont., and the close proximity was something I couldn’t pass up.”

In his six-year span with the Colonials, Nicholson directed recruiting and student-athlete evaluation as Robert Morris produced 33 players that went on to sign professional contracts, including 10 that signed AHL deals. The Colonials also excelled in the classroom during Nicholson’s tenure. The team attained a perfect Academic Progress Rate (APR) of 1,000 from the NCAA in 2013, and the 2013-14 Robert Morris team compiled an overall GPA of 3.69.

Nicholson played both defense and left wing during his four-year collegiate career with Colgate, playing 123 games from 2000 to 2004 and scoring two goals and 10 assists. After graduating from Colgate, Nicholson attended the 2004 rookie camp of the then-Phoenix Coyotes. He went on to play two seasons of professional hockey in the Central Hockey League,  scoring 11 points in 31 games with the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs in the 2004-05 season and eight points in 20 games during the 2005-06 campaign with the Youngstown Steelhounds.

Nicholson’s father, Paul, played 62 NHL games with the Washington Capitals from 1974-77.

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