June 5, 2012

Union rewards Bennett with contract extension

By Jesse Connolly

Following a stellar first year as head coach, Rick Bennett (Springfield, Mass.) has been rewarded with a contract extension that will keep him behind the Union bench through the 2018-19 season. 

Coach Rick Bennett and the Union Dutchmen fell just two wins short of winning a national championship. (Photo courtesy of Union College Athletics)

Following last April’s departure of Nate Leaman, who resigned to take over at Providence College, Bennett guided the Dutchmen to a 26-8-7 record in 2011-12, giving the school its second consecutive ECAC Hockey regular-season title.

“I would like to thank President (Stephen C.) Ainlay, (Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty) Therese McCarty, and Jim McLaughlin for their loyalty and commitment to the men's hockey program,” Bennett said in a statement. “I'm very honored and humbled by the new contract. I would like to express my gratitude toward assistant coaches Joe Dumais, and Jason Tapp, Joel Beal. Also, I want to acknowledge the student-athletes of the 2011-12 team as well as our outstanding support staff for their hard work in making this new contract possible. I truly enjoy the opportunity to serve this program at such a special institution.”

After defeating Michigan State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, Bennett’s squad beat UMass-Lowell to advance to the Frozen Four. Union fell by a score of 3-1 in the semifinals down in Tampa to Ferris State, who lost two days later in the national championship against Boston College.

The trip to the Frozen Four was Union’s first, and just the school’s second appearance in the Division 1 NCAA tournament.

Bennett joined the Union staff in 2005-06 as an assistant coach and served as associate head coach from 2007-11. The Dutchmen finished 2011-12 ranked third in the national polls.

“We are very proud of Rick Bennett’s remarkable accomplishments in his first season as the head coach of our men’s ice hockey program,” said Jim McLaughlin, Director of Athletics at Union. “Rick helped bring unprecedented national attention to our college, as well as tremendous pride to our alumni nationwide. As well as leading our program to the most successful season in history on the ice, he also has recruited quality young men who excel in the classroom and the community.

“Our entire campus community is grateful for his efforts and I am extremely pleased that we will continue to have him serve our student-athletes in the years to come.”

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.