Norwich assistant Czarnota tabbed first head coach for Rivier D-III women’s team, which starts in ’21-22

Chris Czarnota has spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach at Norwich (photo: Norwich Athletics).

Rivier has named Chris Czarnota as the first head coach for its new NCAA Division III women’s hockey program that will start play in the fall of 2021.

A D-III assistant for the past five years, Czarnota has spent the last three seasons at his alma mater, Norwich, serving as an assistant coach with the men’s team and the goalie coach for the women’s program.

He played goal at Norwich from 2010 to 2014.

“We are excited that Chris will be our first head coach in women’s ice hockey history,” said Rivier director of athletics Joanne Merrill in a statement. “He brings a vast knowledge and championship pedigree with him, and his skills as a former NCAA Division III student-athlete are something that our women are going to learn from extensively.”

Czarnota has also been an assistant coach at Tufts.

“I’m looking forward to building this program,” Czarnota said. “Division III is special because the student-athletes are playing their sport for the love of the game. I understand this perspective as a former D-III athlete myself. I believe my devotion to the game and the players will fuel a successful women’s hockey program at Rivier University.

“My time at Norwich, both as a player and coach, has been nothing short of a monumental experience. Norwich is a first-class organization and has helped develop me into the person I am today. I am forever grateful for the opportunities that Norwich has given me.”

Norwich head coach Cam Ellsworth is excited to see Czarnota get this opportunity.

“I am excited for Chris to take this step in his coaching career,” said Ellsworth. “Chris has made a major impact on Norwich University both as a player and a coach. He has earned both an undergraduate degree and graduate degree and I am confident that his experiences here, and his work ethic will make him successful at Rivier.”

With the Cadets as a player, Czarnota went 31-7-3 in 43 games with a 1.50 career GAA and 10 shutouts. He holds bachelor’s degrees in Management and Accounting and a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Norwich.

“Hiring Chris is a solid next step in establishing our ice hockey programs,” said Rivier VP for student affairs Kurt Stimeling. “His commitment to building a culture supporting academic and athletic success and demonstrated coaching and mentoring skills will benefit our student-athletes and provide a strong foundation for our women’s ice hockey program.”

In November, the Rivier men’s team named Eric Sorenson its first head coach.

Both the Rivier men’s and women’s teams will call Conway Arena in Nashua, N.H., home.