August 19, 2012

From NEHJ: Around Campus August 2012

By NEHJ staff

The University of Massachusetts named former Vermont assistant John Micheletto as its new men’s ice hockey head coach last month. 

Micheletto is a 21-year coaching veteran who has spent the past nine years at Hockey East rival Vermont, including the past six seasons as associate head coach. He is the 13th head coach in UMass’ program history and replaces Don “Toot” Cahoon (Lynn, Mass.), who stepped down in mid-June.

“I am humbled to be the 13th head coach at the University of Massachusetts,” said the 46-year-old Micheletto. “When I first started coaching in 1991, I never fathomed that my first head coaching job would come at such a highly-regarded hockey program as UMass.”

Micheletto was hired after a search that reportedly focused on candidates Rand Pecknold (Bedford, N.H.) of Quinnipiac, Paul Pearl (Winthrop, Mass.) of Holy Cross and current USHL coach Mark Carlson.

“The University of Massachusetts got a good man today,” said Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna (Arlington, Mass.). “I’ve known John since the days when we were both in the ECAC. He is a quality person with an extensive hockey background. He will do great things in Amherst.”

Micheletto began his tenure at Vermont in 2003-04, when the Catamounts were still members of ECAC Hockey. He helped UVM through its transition into Hockey East in 2005-06, with his time in Burlington, Vt., highlighted by a trip to the Frozen Four in 2009.

Since he joined the Vermont staff, Micheletto coached or recruited 12 different Catamounts who were selected in the NHL draft, including rising junior Connor Brickley (Everett, Mass.), who was taken in the second round in 2010.

Prior to his stint at Vermont, the Chicago native was an assistant coach at Notre Dame (1999-03) and at Union College (1996-99). Before moving to the collegiate level, Micheletto spent five years (1991-96) in the prep ranks at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pa.

As a player, Micheletto competed at Milton Academy and Dartmouth.

UMass returns 22 of 27 letterwinners from the 2011-12 season, which saw the Minutemen post a 13-18-5 overall record and a 9-14-4 mark in Hockey East.

Girgensons passes on UVM

Touted University of Vermont recruit Zemgus Girgensons, a first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in June, signed an NHL contract with the Sabres last month and will not play for the Catamounts.

“We have stated often that if we are going to lose Zemgus, we hope it’s to the NHL team that selects him in the draft,” UVM coach Kevin Sneddon said. ”Buffalo feels confident that Zemgus can play for them this year as well as with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. … We support Zemgus and wish him the best of luck as he begins his professional career with Buffalo.”

“I would like to thank Coach Sneddon and his staff for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to play for UVM,” said Girgensons, who scored 25 goals for Dubuque of the USHL last year. “This was a very difficult decision for me, to say the least.”

UML’s Bazin earns extension

UMass-Lowell coach Norm Bazin, who was named Coach of the Year in Hockey East last winter after his first season as coach, signed a contract extension through the 2015-16 season last month.

Lowell posted a 24-13-1 overall record last season, including a 17-9-1 clip in Hockey East (good for a share of second place), a big improvement from a 5-25-4 (4-21-2 HE) showing in 2010-11. The River Hawks also qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1996.

Nichols hires Swallow

Former Neumann College assistant Kevin Swallow (Peru, Maine) was named the head men’s coach at Nichols College last month.

Swallow spent one year as a full-time assistant coach at Neumann, where he helped the Knights to a 15-8-3 mark and a No. 15 national ranking last winter.

A 2010 graduate of the University of Maine, Swallow began his playing career at Dartmouth College, where he helped the Big Green capture the ECAC Hockey regular-season championship in 2006. At Maine, he received the team’s Unsung Hero Award in 2010 after helping the Black Bears reach the Hockey East title game.

Amherst turns to Johnson

After spending the 2011-12 season as an assistant coach, Tracy Johnson was named the Amherst College women’s hockey program’s interim head coach, athletics director Suzanne Coffey announced last month.

Johnson replaces Jim Plumer, who coached the Lord Jeffs for nine years before accepting the head coaching position at Vermont earlier this year. Plumer led Amherst to two national championships and a 158-69-19 record, including a dominant 127-30-14 (.784) mark in the past six years.

In her debut season with the program, Johnson helped lead the Lord Jeffs to a 21-6-1 overall record and a 13-2-1 mark in conference play. Amherst advanced to the NESCAC finals for a sixth consecutive year and was one of only eight teams selected to participate in the NCAA Division 3 tournament.

Campbell tapped by Nichols

Former Williams College assistant Jillian Campbell was named head coach at Division 3 Nichols College last month.

A 2011 graduate of Bowdoin College, Campbell was a four-year player there who served as captain as a senior in 2010-11. In 96 career games, she tallied 72 points on 29 goals and 43 assists.

Campbell, a 2007 graduate of Brewster Academy, spent the 2011-12 season as an assistant at Williams, where the Ephs posted an overall record of 11-14 and a 7-9 mark in the NESCAC.

Sacred Heart mourns Larson

Sacred Heart University is mourning the death of former player Garrett Larson. Larson, 31, died in a motor vehicle accident in his hometown of Grand Prairie, Alberta, last month.

Larson played for four seasons for the Pioneers, from 2001 to 2005, and was named team captain his senior season. He is sixth in program history with 55 goals and seventh all-time with 125 points. He earned All-Conference honors in the inaugural season of the Atlantic Hockey Association, scoring 19 goals with 10 assists for 29 points in 2003-04. 

Ice chips

Chris Hall, who worked with both the UMass and Amherst College men’s hockey teams the past two years, was named assistant coach at Div. 3 Colby College last month. Hall and new Colby head coach Blaise MacDonald (Billerica, Mass.) worked together at UMass last year. At Amherst, Hall worked with standout goalie Jonathan La Rose, who was the American Collegiate Hockey Association Player of the Year in Division 3 last year. …

Hillary Witt (Canton, Mass.), a former member of the U.S. Women’s National team and the all-time winningest women’s hockey coach at Yale, was named coordinator of player development and women’s national team scout, it was announced last month by USA Hockey. Witt comes to USA Hockey from Northeastern, where she served as assistant coach the last two seasons.

This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of New England Hockey Journal.

Twitter: @NEHockeyJournal