Looking at the Colorado College Coaching Options
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
As Colorado College athletic director Ken Ralph diligently goes over his candidates for new head coach, we can idly speculate who these candidates might be.
So far, Ralph has confirmed he has whittled the initial pool down to 10 candidates, and he and the search committee will soon begin the more formal interview process. He hopes to have a final decision in May, but left the door open to surprise candidates, such as those from the pro ranks, like when Andy Murray swooped in to show interest at Western Michigan.
Ralph only confirmed that current assistants Joe Bonnett and Eric Rud are among the 10 being considered. Meanwhile, we are left to speculate on the rest.
This is hardly a correct list, nor is it comprehensive. There are surely names under consideration that aren't on this list. And there are always candidates from left field.
It should be noted, too, that the Lake Superior State job is still open, as well. That job, however, is much less attractive to most coaches than Colorado College. That's just the unfortunate reality for the Lakers. (We're hearing names like Michigan Tech assistant Damon Whitten, Northern Michigan assistant Joe Shawhan and D-III head coach Ron Fogarty, a former D-I assistant.)
Current head coaches
Frank Serratore, Air Force — The former Denver head coach could make it the Colorado coaching trifecta. He says he's not interested, and will coach until he's fired at Air Force one day.
Tom Serratore, Bemidji State — OK, then, so how about his brother? Might be an opportunity to get back into a big conference that he fought so mightily for in getting BSU to the WCHA in the first place.
Guy Gadowsky, Penn State — A Colorado College alum, but no chance he leaves Penn State.
Norm Bazin, Massachusetts-Lowell — He was an assistant at CC for a long time, but Lowell is his alma mater, and the odds of him leaving there now seems like nothing more than wishful thinking by Tigers fans.
Seth Appert, Rensselaer — Re-upped his contract last year when he flirted with Denver, so it's unlikely he's interested now.
Derek Schooley, Robert Morris — Why not? Used to be an assistant at Air Force, in Colorado Springs, so has ties to the area.
Dave Smith, Canisius — Doesn't have ties to Colorado Springs, but is an Ohio State alumnus so has more familiarity with "big" conferences than some of his fellow Atlantic Hockey coaches.
Joe Bonnett and Eric Rud — These guys are on the Colorado College staff right now, which could either hurt or help, depending on how you look at it. Bonnett is older, and applied for the opening at Western Michigan, his alma mater, when that opened previously. Rud is a CC alum, so he has that going for him. There are definite benefits to being familiar with recruiting and handling players at a place like CC, which is similar to Union in a lot of ways, in terms of its size, academic reputation and limitations. These guys know how it's done. But it strikes me the Ken Ralph will be looking "outside the organization" so to speak.
Mike Guentzel — This is likely a primary candidate. Guenztel has a CC connection, having been an assistant there for one season recently, 2008-09. A Minnesota graduate, he started out his career as a head coach in the USHL, winning two Coach of the Year Awards, before becoming an assistant at his alma mater in 1994. He left the Gophers for CC, but spent only one season there before taking a head coaching position in Des Moines of the USHL. After just one season there, he went to be an assistant at Nebraska-Omaha, where he had been a finalist for the head coaching position that was taken a year earlier by Dean Blais. After one season there, he moved again, back to Minnesota. The point is, he has the connections and he's qualified, and is probably atop a short list.
Troy Jutting, Jamie Russell, Paul Pooley — These are all current assistants that have been head coaches before, at Minnesota State, Michigan Tech and Providence, respectively. Again, that could work for you or against you.
Other notable Division I assistants who are qualified to be in the mix are: Brent Brekke (Miami), David Lassonde (Denver), Brett Larson (Ohio State), Drew Famulak (Ferris State), Tom Newton (Michigan State) and Brad Berry and Dane Jackson (North Dakota).
There are obviously many other qualified assistants out there, but these are the ones with more ties to the West and/or ones that have more experience.
This list includes people like: Cary Eades, Derek Lalonde, Mark Carlson, P.K. O'Handley, Steve Johnson and Steve Miller. They have all had great success as USHL head coaches, and most have been former D-I assistants. At least one is probably in that final group of 10.
George Gwozdecky — The former Denver coach has obvious ties to the area. He's spent the last season as an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Their season is still going, obviously. There's no doubt Gwozdecky would love to get back to coaching a D-I team, but at 60 years old, is that the direction CC wants to go? They cannot beat his resume, so that's really the only question. And whether Gwozdecky wants this particular job. I don't see why he wouldn't because, if he wants to get back to D-I, there are very few other jobs out there each year that match this one.
Mark Osiecki — Osiecki spent many years as a USHL head coach (winning one championship) and D-I assistant before getting the Ohio State job. He was also just recently named head coach for the 2015 U.S. World Junior team, a great honor and achivement after being an assistant for that team three previous times. He spent the last year as an assistant in the American Hockey League. The only issue for Osiecki is the somewhat murky circumstances under which he was fired at Ohio State after the 2012-13 season. The fact that he has the World Junior team on his coaching agenda for next December-January should not be held against him, and it won't be.
If I had to guess, the short list is: Gwozdecky, Osiecki and Guentzel, with any of those USHL coaches a strong possibility too.