The school announced on Friday they’ve hired former University of Massachusetts-Lowell coach Blaise MacDonald to coach its men’s ice hockey team.
The search lasted more than three months as the school scoured the county in an extensive recruiting process for a new bench boss.
“I am thrilled to welcome Blaise MacDonald and his family into the Colby family,” said Marcella Zalot, Colby’s Harold Alfond Director of Athletics. “Blaise is a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience in building high-caliber programs. He will be a great addition to our staff and to the greater Colby community. I look forward to great success under Blaise’s leadership.”
MacDonald replaces interim coach Stan Moore after he had a dismal season last year behind the bench of the Mules as they finished last in NESCAC league play with a 4-13-1 record (7-15-1 overall).
Moore was hired by Colby in October 2011, just a month before the start of the NESCAC regular season; after former long-time head coach Jim Tortorella – 230-138-33 in 16 seasons – stepped down to accept a position as an assistant coach with the University of New Hampshire.
MacDonald becomes the 18th head coach in the history of the men’s program.
“It’s very humbling to me to know that someone like Jack Kelley was the head coach at Colby,” MacDonald said in a press release. “Then you have Charlie Holt and more recently Jim Tortorella. I’ve know Jim for a long, long time and his values and beliefs (in coaching) are a very succinct match with what I believe in.”
The Billerica, Mass. native spent last season as an assistant with the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and prior to that he spent 10 years as the head coach at the University of Mass-Lowell where he compiled a 150-178-44 record. The River Hawks made one appearance in the Hockey East championship game in 2009. MacDonald was fired by UMass-Lowell at the end of the 2010-’11 season after a 5-25-4 record.
MacDonald graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology where he was an All-American defenseman. He held records for career assists (106) and points (119) by a defenseman and was inducted into the RIT Hall of Fame in 1991. He won two Division II national titles with RIT in 1983 and again 1985.
MacDonald joined the coaching ranks with stops at Dartmouth, Princeton and UMass-Lowell as an assistant before getting his big break as an assistant coach at Boston University where he spent six seasons, winning a national championship in 1995, helping to guide the Terriers to a 144-42-11 record and five NCAA Frozen Four appearances.
He left Boston Univ. in 1996 to start the men’s hockey program at Niagara University in Western New York, going 16-9-2 in their first season of existence, playing NCAA Division III hockey in the ECAC West conference. MacDonald was named ECAC West Co-Coach of the Year in 1996.
Niagara played two years in NCAA D-III before moving up to Division I.
In five years at the helm, MacDonald had a 91-58-17 record with the Purple Eagles.
MacDonald returns to Division III hockey for the first time since the first two years at Niagara. All of his assistant coaching stays also came at the Division I level.
“As long as you have standards of excellence, it doesn’t really matter what level of play you are at,” MacDonald said. “You can be a player who exceeds expectations or be a high performer for the team as long as you have standards of excellence.”
NOTES: Colby as well as in-state rivals Bowdoin, USM and UNE released their conference schedules for the 2012-‘13 season. Colby and Bowdoin will open the season at home on Nov. 16 and 17 with games against Williams and Middlebury. The traditional Colby-Bowdoin weekend will take place on Nov. 30 and Dec 1… Southern Maine and UNE also start their season at home with games vs. Skidmore and Castleton St. on Nov. 2 and 3. UNE will open the Harold Alfond Forum, its new arena, with an exhibition game against the University of Rhode Island on Oct. 26.