East Regional Notebook
Coaching Trio Unique in College Hockey
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
See all of CHN's Tournament coverage: articles, brackets, history and more.
Having three current or former head coaches in the same Regional is pretty wild. In fact, there aren't three coaches in all of college hockey that all once coached at the same school, except the trio of Rick Bennett (current), Nate Leaman (Providence) and Kevin Sneddon (Vermont).
Only nine other schools have another former coach now coaching elsewhere, and only one of them has two others. That list is: Don Lucia (Colorado College and Alaska), Bob Gaudet (Brown), Jerry York (Bowling Green and Clarkson), Frank Serratore (Denver), Dean Blais (North Dakota), Jeff Jackson (Lake Superior State) and Guy Gadowsky (Alaska and Princeton).
That means the only way this feat could be duplicated, at the moment, is if Alaska, Penn State and Minnesota all make the same Regional. Hey, you never know.
Leaman was asked a lot about Union when the team made the Frozen Four the year after he left. But he took this unique opportunity to expand upon his feelings Thursday, with Union the hottest team in the country.
“I think it’s awesome. It just shows the evolution of that program," Leaman said. "Kevin was the coach before I took the position at Union and Kevin did a terrific job of getting the fundraising going. Because at the time the program was really kind of left out for dead for Kevin to be honest. He had a college president that didn’t really understand athletics at all and he had a really poor budget, so Kevin did the one thing he could do to try to keep it alive and he got the alumni involved. He got the fundraising involved. And he laid some good groundwork there for me to come in and build a staff and got there and just tried to do the best job we could there.
"You just want to leave every place better than when you found it and that’s the No. 1 thing. I thought we took some giant steps over the eight years I was there. They’d never won a playoff series, they’d never had a coach that had a contract. We were fortunate in my time there — we went through three athletic directors, the third athletic director (Jim McLaughlin) was phenomenal and he’s still the athletic director. They got a new college president. And between the new athletic director and the college president, they understood what Division I athletics were about.
"And the big thing was the players. When I see some of the players out on the ice before our practice, there’s probably six kids that we recruited. They’re all good hockey players but it was tough at the beginning to get really good hockey players there because of the state of the program and because what the college president said at that time about Division I athletics. To see them go in, the recruits that they are, to see the job that Rick Bennett has done taking it to a new level, you couldn’t be more proud."
Then he added with a smirk: "Doesn’t mean we don’t want to beat 'em."
What also has not been mentioned is that Union assistant Joe Dumais is a graduate of Quinnipiac, which is also in the East Regional.
Union defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere is up for the Hobey Baker Award, and also has Philadelphia Flyers scouts breathing down his neck every game. The junior is a draft pick of the Flyers, and there will be a lot of pressure on him to leave Union when the season is over.
"I don't think about it," Gostisbehere said. "My teammates are great with keeping my mind right with all the Hobey Baker stuff. They bust my chops and keep me down to earth. It's a great thing with teammates, because you know they support you no matter and they're also there to keep a level head for you."