UMass hockey coaching search begins, committee to be formed by next week

By Stephen Hewitt

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Maxwell Sparr/Collegian

The search for the 13th Massachusetts hockey coach has officially begun.

UMass Director of Athletics John McCutcheon said Wednesday that a hiring committee to choose a successor to Don Cahoon – who left his post yesterday after leading the program for 12 seasons – is in the process of being formed.

Since Cahoon’s resignation, McCutcheon has been sending emails to people he believes will be best suited to join the committee. He wouldn’t reveal the names of those people, but he said he expects to officially put together the committee by next week.

“We’ll put that release out as to who’s going to be on the committee, probably really early next week, maybe later this week, but most likely early next week,” McCutcheon said when reached by phone Wednesday.

A list of candidates is slowly but surely being formed as well as buzz continues to build around the vacant position. McCutcheon couldn’t put a number on it, but many people reached out to him Wednesday about the job.

“I’m receiving a lot of emails, a lot of interest from a lot of different areas, which I knew we’d get,” he said.

Speculation arose Tuesday afternoon that former UMass assistant coach Mark Dennehy would be a top candidate for the UMass coaching vacancy. Dennehy is now the head coach at Merrimack, where he helped the Warriors attain a No. 1 national ranking for the first time in program history this season.

According to sources close to Mike McMahon of the Eagle Tribune, however, Dennehy is not a candidate. Dennehy recently signed a contract extension with Merrimack that will keep him there through 2019, and it would take an expensive buyout on UMass’ end to bring him back to Amherst.

Other names circling the rumor mill for the next UMass coach include former Yale assistant Kyle Wallack, who is considered a “frontrunner” for the position, according a tweet by Joe Meloni of College Hockey News.

Wallack, who helped the Bulldogs reach as high as a No. 1 ranking in polls during his tenure, was also rumored to be a top candidate to replace former UMass assistant coach Blaise MacDonald, who was recently hired as the head coach at Colby College, according to Meloni.

Regardless of who is being rumored to replace Cahoon, McCutcheon said he’s being careful not to think of the ideal candidate and limit his options.

“In all searches like this, I don’t start with a typical, this is what I want to go for, because I think that limits the candidate pool,” McCutcheon said. “I really don’t ever try to limit the search because you never know who might emerge out of the process that could really be good fit.”

McCutcheon wouldn’t put a timetable on when he expects to name the next coach, saying he’ll let the process play itself out in order to find the right fit.

“It will be made when we go through the process, but the most important thing is that we find the right person,” McCutcheon said. “I don’t really want to put a timeline on it because when you go through these things it can vary quite a bit … there a lot of variables. We’ll move along as quickly as we can, but again, the most important thing is that we find the right person.”

Stephen Hewitt can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @steve_hewitt.