HockeyYall.com, which covers southern-based ACHA organizations, is reporting that assistant coach Josh Hand - whose position with the program had been in limbo for months - has been retained on Guy Gadowsky's staff as a goaltending coach. In addition, he will serve as the head coach of Penn State's ACHA Division 2 squad.
Hand joined Scott Balboni's Icers staff for the 2010-2011 season, where his broad responsibilities included recruiting, video analysis and practice development. He also took over head coaching duties while Balboni was in Turkey for the World University Games. The Reading-area native guided the Icers to a 4-1-1 record during that period, including a split at Delaware and a three-point home weekend against Rhode Island - a stretch that more or less ensured that PSU made the ACHA National Tournament for an unmatched 20th straight year. As the season wore on, it also appeared as if he superseded the head coach (who resigned May 27th) as the team's media spokesperson. A quick survey of Steve Penstone's blog shows seven 2011 in-season interviews with Hand, compared with zero for Balboni.
Hand played an integral role in recruiting a large portion of the 2011 class, no minor feat considering the uncertain identity of the coaching staff at the time most committed - including doubt whether Hand would even be a part of it. Those fears (yes "fears," I'm an unapologetic fan) are now passe, obviously.
His new responsibilities include coaching up returning goalies Matt Madrazo and Dan Ivanir (who combined for 13 wins and a 2.48 goals against average last season) as well as incoming recruits Tim Carr and P.J. Musico.
Penn State's D2 job had been open since early April, when Ryan Behnken departed for the head coach position with the Philadelphia Revolution's Tier III Jr. B Continental Hockey Association team after just one season. The Ice Lions were 15-8-5 last season and advanced to the finals of the regional tournament before falling to perennial D2 power UMBC. Behnken did predict big things for Hand upon leaving, even if he didn't know who his successor would be at the time. Presumably, he did know that the team will have as many as 26 returning players, plus the possibility of adding D1-caliber players who don't make the D1 team this season due to the unique circumstances in play right now.
“Next year’s team looks like it will be very strong. Whoever gets to coach the team will be really lucky.”Hand explained a little about his strategy for the Ice Lions to HockeyYall.com.
While Hand said he will coach to his players’ abilities and experience, he favors an uptempo game. “I think we’ll be very good. We’ll push the guys and an uptempo style of hockey.Before coming to the Icers, Hand lived a typically-nomadic hockey life, including playing stops with the Atlantic Junior Hockey League's prestigious Boston Bulldogs organization (whose alumni include Icers Eric Steinour and Creek Lewis) and as a four-year goalie at NCAA Division III Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Following graduation in 2008, he relocated to College Station, TX where he served as an assistant with Texas A&M's ACHA Division 2 program and as director of hockey at the Arctic Wolf Ice Center. Despite a brief history in a non-traditional area, the Aggies finished No. 10 in the West Region and made the regional playoffs for the first time ever in 2008-2009.
“I think I bring a lot of experience from playing and being part of the DI team here. My hope is for us to be back where we were . . . And any coach’s goal is to win a national championship.”
Hand, who will conduct a training camp after the DI [Icers] hold theirs, is still in the process of building his team’s schedule.