Colten St. Clair knows what it takes to win an NCAA hockey championship and he hopes to bring that winning culture to the University of Maine men’s program.
St. Clair, who was one of the captains on the University of North Dakota’s national championship team in 2016, is the new volunteer assistant for the Black Bears.
He replaces Brad Schuler on head coach Red Gendron’s staff.
In his first full season as a head coach, St. Clair was named the Western States (Junior) Hockey League Coach of the Year after leading the Phoenix Knights from an 0-15 start to a berth in Western Division semifinals.
St. Clair joins a program that produced the best record in Gendron’s five-year tenure last season (18-16-4) after going a combined 49-82-17 the previous four years.
UMaine returns 10 of its top 11 scorers, all three goalies and all but one defenseman.
“I’m very honored to have this opportunity,” said the 25-year-old St. Clair, a native of Gilbert, Arizona. “Maine is historically one of the most prestigious programs in college hockey. Red has coached for a long time and is very knowledgeable so this was a no-brainer for me.
“I want to bring a national championship atmosphere to the program. Last year was a good stepping stone. This year, some serious goals will be set. The team has to keep moving forward,” he added.
Gendron is elated to have St. Clair join a staff that includes full-time assistants Ben Guite and Alfie Michaud.
“Brad Schuler was terrific. He set the standard. But we feel pretty strongly Colten can meet it and even exceed it,” said Gendron.
Gendron said St. Clair will do a lot of video work, individually and with game breakdowns, and he will also be involved with on-ice skill development. He will work primarily with the forwards.
“If we have additional needs and find even more strengths (in him), we’ll used him even more,” said Gendron, adding that St. Clair’s close proximity in age to the players should be beneficial.
Gendron had in a news release described St. Clair as a, “bright young star among young coaches in our country. He has demonstrated outstanding leadership ability as both a player and a coach. He has been part of several championship teams and understands what it takes to be a champion.”
Even though it is a non-paying position, St. Clair intends to dive full time into his coaching.
“I look at life as an investment and you have to take some risks to advance your career. I’m very excited and I intend to be part of the Maine culture,” said St. Clair, who played on North Dakota teams that went 110-43-17 and reached three Frozen Fours.
The defensive-minded forward, who registered nine goals and 10 assists in 107 career games, played three years for current Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol and one year for Brad Berry.
“I learned a lot from them in how to go about the day-to-day process on and off the ice,” said St. Clair.
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