July 15, 2012

From NEHJ: Around Campus July 2012

By NEHJ staff

After 12 seasons behind the bench of the UMass hockey team, Don “Toot” Cahoon (Lynn, Mass.) stepped down from his position as head coach last month. 

UMass is still searching for Don Cahoon's replacement. (Dave Arnold Photography)

“Through the course of our recent conversations, Coach Cahoon and I mutually agreed that it would be in the program’s best interest for him to take this action at this time,” director of athletics John McCutcheon said. “I want to thank Coach Cahoon for his many contributions to UMass and the community. He has positioned the program well for future success, both on and off the ice, and we are excited to continue to build on the foundation that he has put in place.”

During his dozen seasons in Amherst, Cahoon compiled a 166-225-42 record. His 166 wins are the most in program history.

“It’s been an honor to coach and work with so many fine student-athletes over the last 12 years here at UMass,” Cahoon said. “Their efforts and the efforts of the faculty, staff and community members will be fond memories of my time here at Massachusetts. I look forward to the continued growth and development of this program so that it will sustain itself at the most elite level within Hockey East. The privilege has been all mine.”

Cahoon’s best season came back in 2006-07, when the Minutemen were led by this year’s Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup champion with the Los Angeles Kings, Jonathan Quick (Hamden, Conn.), and finished with a 21-13-5 record. The sophomore netminder helped UMass reach the second round in their first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament.

UConn to join Hockey East

UConn announced last month that it has been offered and accepted an invitation to join Hockey East for the 2014-15 season. The program will remain in the Atlantic Hockey Association for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.

Hockey East, which currently has 10 members, will expand to 11 when Notre Dame joins for the 2013-14 campaign before reaching an even dozen upon UConn’s arrival. 

“This is a historic day in the history of the University of Connecticut and its Division of Athletics,” UConn director of athletics Warde Manuel said. ”Hockey East is the premier men’s ice hockey conference in the country, and we are proud to say that the Huskies are now part of it.”

The Hockey East Association was founded in 1984, and its teams have won eight NCAA championships in the past 20 years. Hockey East teams have made 37 appearances in the Frozen Four and 21 appearances in national championship games in the 28-year history of the league.

UConn plans to play its home Hockey East conference games at the XL Center in downtown Hartford and will continue to play nonconference games at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum in Storrs.

MacDonald has new gig

Blaise MacDonald, who has Division 1 head coaching stints at UMass-Lowell and Niagara, and won national championships as a player and an assistant coach, was named head coach at Div. 3 Colby last month.

The Billerica, Mass., native was recruited as a player by Colby but had never been on the Waterville, Maine, campus until his job interview.

“What a tremendous community and a beautiful campus,” MacDonald said. “The people that I met were so genuine, authentic, and caring,”

MacDonald is the 18th head coach in program history since men’s hockey was started at Colby in the 1922-23 academic year. Stan Moore served as interim coach last season, following longtime coach Jim Tortorella’s departure to become an assistant coach at New Hampshire.

MacDonald spent last year as an assistant coach at UMass. He was at UMass-Lowell as head coach for 10 seasons prior to that.

BU’s Nicastro cleared

Due to a lack of sufficient evidence, rape charges against former Boston University defenseman Max Nicastro were dropped last month. 

“After a three-month investigation and a comprehensive review of the evidence it developed, prosecutors determined that they could not meet their burden at trial of proof beyond a reasonable doubt and had an ethical obligation not to pursue it further,” Suffolk District Attorney spokesperson Jake Wark said.

Nicastro, who turned 22 in March, was in the midst of his third season with the Terriers before being arrested in February after a female student alleged that he’d sexually assaulted her. The university promptly suspended the California native from the team. Two days later, the school reported he was no longer enrolled there.

“I feel relieved and just happy it’s done with,” Nicastro said after the hearing. “It’s been a hard road.”

Selected 91st overall at the 2008 NHL draft by the Red Wings, Nicastro will now turn his attention to finishing his degree, according to his attorney, Hugh Curran. It remains unclear whether Nicastro will attempt to be reinstated at BU and continue working toward that goal there.

Providence picks captains

Seniors Kyle Murphy, Tim Schaller (Merrimack, N.H.) and Myles Harvey will serve as team captains at Providence College for the 2012-13 season.

Schaller, who totaled seven goals in his first two seasons (67 games) at Providence, finished with a team-high 14 goals in 26 games as he battled through injuries during the 2011-12 season. He ranked third on the team with a career-high 21 points. In addition, he was named one of 21 semifinalists for the 60th Walter Brown Award, presented annually to the best American-born college hockey player in New England.

The Friars went 14-20-4 under first-year coach Nate Leaman, finishing seventh in Hockey East and reaching the semifinals of the league tournament for the first time since 2001.

Union’s Bennett extended

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

Following last year’s departure of Leaman, Bennett guided the Dutchmen to a 26-8-7 record, giving the school its second consecutive ECAC Hockey regular-season title and first tournament championship.

After defeating Michigan State in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, Bennett’s squad beat UMass-Lowell to advance to the Frozen Four for the first time ever before losing in the national semifinals to Ferris State, 3-1.

Trinity’s Dunham honored

John Dunham (West Hartford, Conn.), the guiding force behind the Trinity College hockey program for 37 years, was honored by the Connecticut Sportswriters Alliance this spring as a Gold Key recipient for his lasting impact on sports in the state of Connecticut. 

Dunham was recognized along with U.S. Olympic soccer gold medalist Kristine Lilly, longtime Bacon Academy boys and girls basketball and baseball coach Dave Shea, and longtime Trinity Catholic boys basketball coach Mike Walsh.

Dunham began coaching Trinity’s club hockey team in 1970 and helped it attain varsity status in 1974. In the ensuing 32 seasons, he guided the Bantams to a 441-306-34 record, including 21 playoff appearances, four ECAC North/South championships (1986, 1987, 1988 and 1991) and a NESCAC championship in 2003.

Ice chips

Yale forward Aleca Hughes (Westwood, Mass.) is one of 11 finalists for ECAC Hockey’s Mandi Schwartz Student-Athlete of the Year Award, which goes to a student-athlete who excels in the classroom, participated in at least 50 percent of the team’s games, and demonstrates leadership on and off the ice. …

Carson Duggan has been hired at Trinity as its women’s hockey coach after guiding the program to a 15-11 overall record (9-7 NESCAC) as interim coach last winter. …

Former Northeastern forward Steve Quailer signed a two-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens last month. The Arvada, Colo., native became the Huskies’ second student-athlete from the 2011-12 team to ink a professional contract with an NHL organization after defenseman Anthony Bitetto signed a two-year contract with the Nashville Predators in March. …

Melanie Ruzzi, a defenseman on the Providence College women’s team from 1999 to 2003, has been named assistant coach, replacing Karen Thatcher, who is taking a more limited role as she pursues a spot on the 2014 Olympic team. …

Dartmouth announced last month the addition of Josh Liegl to the coaching staff. Liegl was a volunteer assistant with the Big Green last season and previously was an assistant at Ohio State from 2008-11.

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

Twitter: @NEHockeyJournal 

Email: feedback@hockeyjournal.com