Lake Superior Names Whitten New Coach
CHN Staff Report
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. Damon Whitten has been named the new coach at Lake Superior State, replacing Jim Roque, who was fired last month.
Whitten has spent the last four years as an assistant coach at Michigan Tech, first under Jamie Russell and then under Mel Pearson.
Whitten graduated after a four-year career at Michigan State in 2001. After playing some time in the minor leagues, he became an assistant coach, first at Wayne State then at Alaska-Anchorage. He went back to Michigan State as the team's director of hockey operations, before going to Michigan Tech.
Whitten faces a challenge at Lake Superior State, where resources have become tight.
"I know the available talent pool well," Whitten said at Sunday's news conference.
Twenty years ago, when Whitten was being recruited, LSSU was a recent three-time national champion. Whitten said he was being recruited by then-coach Jeff Jackson, but never received an offer.
"It's nice to finally be a Laker," Whitten said.
Athletic director Kris Dunbar said Whitten would have full autonomy on his coaching staff.
“Damon brings a strong work ethic and positive energy to the Laker Hockey Program," Dunbar said. "We had a lot of very qualified candidates apply for the position but in the end we felt that Coach Whitten was the one to move the program forward.”
Lake Superior also interviewed current Adrian coach Ron Fogarty, a Colgate graduate, and current Providence assistant Ben Barr, who played at Rensselaer.
“It will be our responsibility to rebuild this tradition in the manner that coaching greats such as Rick Comley, Ron Mason, and Jeff Jackson once did,” Whitten said.
“Our job will begin immediately to reach out to alumni, fans, recruits, and the community during our quest to restore Laker hockey. Our family is very excited to join the Sault. Ste Marie community and become part of the Laker hockey family."
The Lakers came in ninth last season in the new WCHA, one spot out of a playoff berth.
Whitten scored 35 goals and 40 assists for 75 points in 166 career games at Michigan State from 1997-2001. The Brighton, Mich., native was a two-time nominee for the NCAA Hockey Humanitarian Award and was awarded the Blue Line President’s Award as the Spartans' top senior scholar-athlete at Michigan State.
Following his collegiate career, Whitten spent two seasons playing professionally in the East Coast Hockey League. He won a Kelly Cup title with the Greenville Grrrowl in 2001-02.