Lake Forest coach Kelliher stepping down to relocate with family; Foresters’ assistant O’Malley to take reins in ’21-22

Patrick Kelliher (left) will hand off the Lake Forest men’s hockey program to longtime assistant Sean O’Malley on June 1.

After 11 years as a member of the Lake Forest men’s hockey coaching staff, including the last seven as head coach, Patrick Kelliher is resigning to relocate with his family.

He will be replaced by Sean O’Malley, the team’s top assistant for the last seven years, effective June 1.

Lake Forest is 87-64-16 overall and 66-47-9 in conference play since Kelliher took over as head coach and O’Malley became his assistant in 2014.

“It has been a privilege to be a part of Forester Hockey for the past 11 years and to serve as head coach for the last seven,” said Kelliher in a news release. “It is truly special to be able to help build something I believe in at a place where you don’t have to sacrifice athletics or academics. To see the culture that our team has created is something I will always be proud of. To all my former players, I appreciate everything you gave to this team and my hope is that you will always be proud alumni of the Lake Forest College men’s hockey program. In addition, I’d be remiss to not thank Blake and Jackie for trusting me to lead this program as a young head coach and for believing in our staff’s vision.”

“I look forward to watching Coach O’Malley lead this program to new heights in future years. There could not be a better or more deserving person to take over the helm. Sean’s tireless efforts over the past seven years have been a huge part of where this program is today.”

The Foresters reached the semifinals of the 2018 and 2019 NCHA Harris Cup playoffs and qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time in 29 years in 2019-20. The team has been nationally ranked on several occasions and listed as high as No. 6 in the nation during his tenure.

“Coach Kelliher has done a tremendous job with the Forester men’s hockey program throughout his time at the College,” said Lake Forest VP for athletics and career advancement Jackie Slaats. “His teams have been competitive in the NCHA and on a national level while representing Forester athletics extremely well in the classroom and community. We appreciate his contributions to the men’s hockey program and department as a whole and wish Pat and his family the best as they move on to the next chapter in their lives. We are also fortunate to have a person of Coach O’Malley’s caliber to continue moving the program forward.”

O’Malley, who has also been the Foresters’ head women’s golf coach since 2017, came to Lake Forest from Potsdam, where he served for two seasons as an assistant coach, recruiting coordinator, and academic advisor.

After four years playing at Brockport, O’Malley pursued a professional career with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers and various minor league teams.

“While he certainly has big shoes to fill, we are confident Coach O’Malley will do just that,” Lake Forest interim director of athletics Blake Theisen said. “He has been a big part of the program’s success since he arrived on campus in 2014 and the team will continue to benefit from his talent, work ethic, and experience as a coach, as well as the continuity he provides during this transition.”

“I am extremely humbled and honored to be the next head men’s ice hockey coach here at Lake Forest College and remain involved in the campus community,” said O’Malley. “I am eager to get started and thankful to the college’s administration for giving me this opportunity.

“It has been a pleasure to work alongside Coach Kelliher the past seven years. His vision and values for this program has created a tremendous culture at the rink and in the classroom. I will always be thankful he brought me to Lake Forest College. Moving forward, we want to continue the tradition of excellence and hold the same values and standards for our program. I will continue to work diligently to provide our players an opportunity to be successful, both on and off the ice.”