Holy Cross names Sommer, Sorenson new assistants, Butler volunteer assistant, Hailer director of hockey operations

Holy Cross has announced four new members of first-year head coach Bill Riga’s coaching staff.

Joining Riga during his first season will be assistant coaches Castan Sommer and Eric Sorenson, volunteer assistant coach Bobby Butler, and director of operations Blake Hailer.

Sommer rejoins the Crusaders as an assistant coach after playing for the team from 2012 to 2016. During his time at Holy Cross, Sommer helped the team to 66 victories, recording 29 goals and 35 assists for 64 points over his four seasons in Worcester.

Since graduating in 2016, Sommer has spent time as a skating coach at the San Jose Sharks Development Camp and, more recently, served as an assistant coach for the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds.

“Castan will bring a variety of experiences from his background,” Riga said. “Having coached at a high level in the WHL, he will have an immediate impact on our program on the ice. He has a background growing up in the pro hockey environment and has countless ties in key areas for recruiting. Then, add on the fact that he is a Holy Cross Hockey alum, and it just made him the perfect fit for the program.”

Sorenson will serve as an assistant coach at Holy Cross after coming from Rivier, where he was set to be the team’s first head coach, responsible for leading the launch of the young program. He was hired by Rivier in Nov. 2020.

Before Rivier, Sorenson served as an assistant coach at Williams from 2018 to 2020. Sorenson played college hockey as a goaltender at Western New England from 2010 to 2014. He holds the WNE program records for career wins, saves, and shutouts.

“Eric is a highly respected young coach with a versatile skill set,” Riga said. “He has experience recruiting at a competitive academic school, coaching and recruiting goaltenders and is excellent with video and game planning. He was a standout in the interview process and will be a great asset to our players.”

Butler joins the staff as a volunteer assistant coach and will bring a wealth of high-level experience to the Crusaders having played in both the NHL and AHL. Butler has seen time with the Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators, and Florida Panthers organizations. A three-time AHL All-Star, Butler most recently played with the Hartford Wolfpack during the 2018-19 season. He was also a part of the 2018 U.S. Olympic roster. Butler played for New Hampshire from 2006 to 2010 where he was named a First Team All-American, Hockey East Player of the Year, and Walter Brown Award winner in 2010.

“Bobby has NHL and Olympic experience that will have a tremendous impact on our forwards on day one,” Riga said. “His background in teaching at his hockey camps and clinics in the Worcester area give us great resources as well. This is home for him and he is highly respected in the hockey world. We are fortunate to have him join our staff.”

A 2021 graduate of Holy Cross, Hailer served as the team manager during his four years of undergrad in Worcester and will bring a great deal of familiarity and experience into his new role.

“Blake has been with the program for some time now and has experience handling the operations, video and travel logistics for the team, and will now be doing so on a full-time basis,” Riga said. “As an HC alum, his perspective on Holy Cross and its culture will have big dividends for us. He is excellent with the video system and breakdown and will have a lot of responsibility in that regard.”


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