Candidates Emerge For Nebraska-Omaha Opening
CHN Staff Report
Division I college hockey head coaching openings are rare, and with so many good candidates out there, a quality spot like Nebraska-Omaha is bound to draw attention.
With UNO officially posting the opening last week, three names have already surfaced as having interest in the position. There are assuredly others, but they have not made their interest known publicly.
The opening was created when Mike Kemp, the only coach the program has known in its 10 seasons, stepped down to become associate athletic director to new AD Trev Alberts.
All three of those with interest have connections to Omaha.
Mike Guentzel, former assistant at Minnesota, current assistant at Colorado College, and a one-time head coach of the USHL's Omaha Lancers, is one of the prominent names. Guentzel, 46, coached the Lancers from 1992-94 and was a finalist for the open UNO position originally.
"I've been an assistant for 15 years, and the people who have worked with me understand that it's been my dream to be a head coach at the Division I level," Guentzel told the Omaha World-Herald. "Every year I sit back and see if there's anything out there to pursue, but there's not a lot of turnover in our sport, and after 14 or 15 years you start to wonder if it's ever going to happen."
David Quinn, 42, is the top assistant at Boston University, which just won a national championship. Quinn was a one-time assistant at UNO under Kemp.
Meanwhile, current Minnesota assistant Mike Hastings, another former head coach of the Omaha Lancers, is still undecided over whether to apply. Earlier this month, he told Minneapolis reporters that he would not necessarily pursue the opening, but left the door open to being pursued.
Though UNO didn't start competing until 1999, Kemp, a Wisconsin assistant at the time, was hired in 1996. Besides Guentzel, the other two finalists were Frank Serratore, who went on to become Air Force head coach the next season, and Greg Drechsel, now an assistant at Clarkson. Neither have indicated interest this time.
Other names that have been circulating including former North Dakota coach Dean Blais, who won two national titles with the Sioux. He is now head coach for the USHL's Fargo Force, after having spent time in pro hockey, and was just named head coach of the 2010 U.S. World Junior team.
Other current assistant coaches mentioned in the rumor mill include Chris Bergeron (Miami), David Lassonde (New Hampshire), and Steve Rohlik (Minnesota-Duluth).