Mike McMahon of College Hockey News reported earlier today that Union coach Rick Bennett is out of the running for the UMass job. Bennett was considered the top target by most around college hockey, though it’s unknown just how interested he really was in the opportunity. He had this to say:
“As far as the UMass position, obviously I am honored and humbled to be considered in the mix,” Bennett said Friday morning. “But I think it was a lot of noise.”
This is pretty disappointing. If Bamford wanted to hit a home run with his hire, Bennett was it. It’s not every day you can get someone with a national championship to take over your program. The disappointment is compounded by the fact that UConn coach Mike Cavanaugh, who has been subject of some buzz in regards to the UMass position in the last couple days, appears to be staying put as well.
So the chances of Bamford making a big splash with a hire are diminishing and it’s coming down to finding the right fit for UMass versus the slam dunk hire. So who’s next? Who’s still out there? Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy is still someone that will likely be considered. Shortly after reporting on Bennett, McMahon tweeted this:
Barr would be an intriguing candidate. He is young, just 34, but he already has extensive experience in both eastern and western college hockey. He has coached at Union and Providence under Nate Leaman and is currently an assistant at Western Michigan. When it comes to top assistant coaches Barr is up there with Boston College’s Greg Brown, Quinnipiac’s Bill Riga, and Boston University’s Albie O’Connell.
Bennett seemed like the most logical choice and, for me at least, seemed like someone who would potentially be interested in a coaching opportunity in Hockey East. Especially given his local ties. After those two another possibility would be former Minuteman captain Dean Stork, who had a successful coaching career in the ECHL. He is the subject of this article by Matt Vautour where he says all the right things about taking over the UMass job. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s able to convince Bamford he’s they guy for the position.
Last night’s post centered around the awards from the league as well as my picks for the Hockey East awards. Today the Hockey East media released their awards with Kevin Boyle being named their Player of the Year.
The other big news today was that Wisconsin fired coach Mike Eaves. It’s unlikely that they’d end up looking at the same candidates as UMass for their opening. But if dominoes start to fall there is a chance their opening and other potential openings could affect the UMass search.