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Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette spends off-day in Amherst

(Ryan Ames/ Daily Collegian)

This past weekend was the Homecoming celebration, and Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette coincidentally joined in on the festivities.

Laviolette, from Franklin, returned to Massachusetts to help coach the Florida Gulf Coast club hockey team in its matchup with UMass Sunday afternoon.

“My son plays for Florida Gulf Coast,” Laviolette said. “I was in New York yesterday and [the Predators] had a day off today, so it was an opportunity for me to get in a car and go watch him play a couple games. I got to see him play last night at 8:30 and today at noon.”

Jack Laviolette, a forward, stars for the Eagles squad.

Following a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers Oct. 21 at Madison Square Garden, the Predators are currently in the middle of a three-day break until their next matchup with the Calgary Flames Oct. 24.

Laviolette admitted to enjoying this mini-vacation watching his son compete.

“It is just because I never get to see my boys play that much, not live anyways. It’s great the live-streams now, the videos that they put out there live of the games is good,” Laviolette said.

“It’s always nice to be here in person and see him and support him,” he added. “They went to four years at Proctor Academy in New Hampshire and same thing, [I] didn’t get to see them that much. But when I do get to see them I really, really enjoy it.”

Florida Gulf Coast stormed back to beat the Minutemen 4-3 Sunday, scoring two goals late in the third period, and Laviolette offered his thoughts on the contest.

“It was good, UMass has got a really good team. Their club team is really good,” Laviolette said. “Florida’s always had a good program. I thought it was a good game. Thought we started really strong in the first period [and] got a lead, they came back and it went back and forth a little bit. In the end, [it was] two good teams swinging it out.”

Laviolette, a 1986 graduate of Westfield State, played his college hockey with the Owls before a 10-year professional career that was highlighted by a 12-game stint with the Rangers in the 1988-89 season.

Nine years later, Laviolette got his first job behind the bench with the Wheeling Nailers in 1997-98 of the East Coast Hockey League, kick-starting a coaching career that still lasts today.

Laviolette was at the helm during Nashville’s run to the Stanley Cup finals last season, where the Predators lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. He has a Stanley Cup to his name as coach of the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes championship team.

Locally, Laviolette was head coach of the Providence Bruins from 1998-2000, winning a Calder Cup championship his first season, and then went on to be an assistant coach with the Boston Bruins in 2000-01.

“I’m just here for the day,” Laviolette said. [Their] coach [Bob Brinkworth] asked me to come on, his assistant coach is in Africa so I’m the replacement.”

Ryan Ames can be reached at rames@umass.edu or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

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