Harvard coach Katey Stone became the all-time winningest coach in Division I women’s hockey when she won her 338th game on Feb. 20, 2010. That was 3,150 days ago. By the end of the upcoming weekend, it’s unlikely she’ll still hold the record — or at least hold it all on her own.
Stone currently has 464 career wins. Wisconsin coach Mark Johnson has 463. Mercyhurst coach Mike Sisti has 462 wins. As an Ivy League school, Harvard doesn’t start its season until mid-October. By that time, both Mercyhurst and Wisconsin will have played six games already this season, giving Johnson and Sisti a bit of a head start on this little competition.
All three of these coaches would tell you that they don’t pay attention to record books. More often than not, it’s reporters who fill them on new milestones set. Coaches focus on the process — on the pieces it takes to make a successful program. The winning is a natural by-product. They’re all fiercely competitive, which is part of what makes this convergence of three of the best coaches the game has ever known so fun. Though none of them will put much stock in the idea of a new coach atop this leaderboard, it’s definitely a monumental moment for women’s college hockey.
Though Stone may be starting from behind, you can bet that she and her Crimson squad will be working to add to her own win total as the season progresses. Overall, Harvard is one of the most decorated programs in women’s hockey history.
Stone, who’s been at the head of the Crimson women’s hockey program longer than her players have been alive, has coached 12 Olympians, 24 All-Americans, six Patty Kazmaier Award winners, and nine ECAC Players of the Year. Under her direction, Harvard won the 1999 AWCHA National Championship. They’ve appeared in six Frozen Fours and 11 NCAA tournaments, and have won seven ECAC championships, eight Ivy League titles, and 11 Beanpots. Stone was the coach of Team USA in at the Sochi Olympics and won a silver medal.
She is one of just five women — at any level of college hockey — to have amassed at least 300 career wins, and the only won who has 400 career wins.
A trailblazer for women coaching women, Harvard is one of just five Division I schools to feature a full bench of women coaches for the 2018-19 season. Regardless of whether or not her reign as the best coach in women’s college history comes to an end this weekend, it’s been an amazing run.
When Stone took over the Harvard program, she was just five years removed from having played herself — she was a four-year double-letter-winner in hockey and lacrosse at the University of New Hampshire. The Crimson won 11 games the year before Stone became head coach. Just five years later, the team went 33-1-0 and won the AWCHA National Championship (the NCAA did not officially sanction women’s hockey until the 1999-2000 season). Her impact on the women’s game at all levels is absolutely immeasurable. And her story continues to be written.
It’s likely Stone will be surpassed as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA D-I women’s college hockey this season, but that takes absolutely nothing away from the impact she’s made on the women’s game, not only in Boston or the United States, but worldwide.
Stone has never been afraid to push for more, advocate for the women’s game, and demand that the women’s game receive the attention, funding, and respect it deserves. With a number of her former players entering the coaching and hockey administration ranks, the lessons of family, success, confidence, and assuredness that women’s hockey belongs that she has taught multiple generations of players at Harvard will have an impact on women’s hockey for years to come, top billing in the record book or not.
Though we may see some jockeying for position in the early weeks of the season, it seems likely that Wisconsin’s Johnson will be the new record holder when this season is said and done. Where Harvard has averaged 17 wins over the last five seasons and Mercyhurst has averaged just shy of 20 wins per season over the past five years, Wisconsin has averaged just more than 31 wins each season.
Johnson, should he take the lead, will have done it in a shorter career than either Stone or Sisti. Stone has 736 career games coached. Sisti has 675. Johnson is currently winning .824 percent of the time, having amassed his 463 wins over just 587 games coached in 16 seasons at the helm of the Badgers. Johnson took the 2009-10 season away from the NCAA to coach the US women at the Vancouver Olympics, winning silver.
Under his leadership, the Badgers have four national championships, 12 NCAA tournament appearances, and 11 Frozen Four appearances. They won the WCHA regular season title and the conference tournament title seven times each.
Sisti is the only coach the Mercyhurst women’s hockey program has ever known. The Lakers have 15 conference titles and made 10 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances from 2005-2013. His team is 218-31-21 in conference play over his tenure, and he has an overall .720 win percentage on his career.
Of course, all these coaches have a way to go to catch Bill Mandigo. At the helm of Division III Middlebury for the past 31 years, Mandigo has an unfathomable career record of 561-147-42 — and counting. The Panthers open their season in mid-November after an appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals last season. They’ll look to add to Mandigo’s impressive career record.