December 5, 2013

UNH fires McCloskey over "inappropriate contact"

By Kat Hasenauer Cornetta

The University of New Hampshire on Thursday announced the firing of women's hockey coach Brian McCloskey.

McCloskey, in his 12th year coaching the Wildcat women, was dismissed following an investigation into "an incident of inappropriate physical contact with a player on the bench" during the Wildcats' Nov. 30 game against Ohio State, according to a UNH press release.

No detail was given by the school as to what the contact entailed.

“The safety and well-being of our student athletes is our number one priority,” UNH Athletics Director Marty Scarano said in a the release. “Coaches are role models for our students and responsible for their dignity and safety, and we have zero tolerance for unsportsmanlike behavior on any of our athletic teams.”

Early on, the McCloskey era was mostly one of success for New Hampshire. A former associate head coach with the men's team under Dick Umile, McCloskey led the New Hampshire women to four straight Hockey East Tournament championships from 2006-2009 and six straight regular season league championships from 2004-09. His teams made the NCAA tournament five times during that stretch. He coached five Patty Kazmaier Award finalists, and was a two-time runner up for national Coach of the Year. 

Despite that success, 2010 seemed to signal the end of the dominance of New Hampshire women's hockey. They last made the Hockey East title game in 2009. In 2010, the lost to eventual champion Boston University 4-0 in the semifinals. The Wildcats missed the playoffs entirely in 2011, and had several players transfer to other programs, including Patty Kazmaier Award finalist Jenn Wakefield. They also saw decommitments from standout recruits, including Hannah Bramm (Minnesota Duluth) and Paige Savage (Northeastern.) 

This year, the Wildcats began the season with only 20 skaters - just five on defense - and their worst fears were realized when standout defenseman Alexis Crossley went down in October with injury. She returned during the Ohio State series. 

New Hampshire is scheduled to finish up their fall semester this weekend with a pair of non-conference games. They take on Harvard at Bright Arena Friday night, and host Dartmouth on Sunday afternoon. Assistant coaches Jamie Wood and Stephanie Jones will take over for those two games, and the school announced an interim head coach will be in place when UNH gets back to Hockey East play on Jan. 10, 2014.

New Hampshire is currently 6-9-2 overall and 2-3-2 in Hockey East, which has the Wildcats tied with Providence for fifth place in the league.

Twitter: @sportsgirlkat