Just coming off her last coaching stint as an assistant for the 2014 silver-medal winning U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team, Hilary Witt was hired Wednesday as the University of New Hampshire women’s ice hockey head coach with one goal in mind.
“I’m here to win hockey games for a great university,” she said. “I’m walking into a program rich in history surrounded by great people and athletes. It’s a good foundation, but in my discussion with the team (Wednesday), I told them we have a lot of work ahead of us. My immediate goal is to win games and be more successful than this past year.”
Last season was marred in turmoil following the firing of 12-year head coach Brian McCloskey. He was fired for what UNH officials claimed was “inappropriate physical contact with a player on the bench” during the Wildcats’ 3-2 loss to Ohio State on Nov. 30 in Durham. Assistant coaches Jamie Wood and Stephanie Jones were named interim co-coaches.
Witt, who inherits a program that hasn’t had a winning season since the 2009-10 season (UNH is 47-77-11 combined over the last four seasons), started her coaching career (2003-10) at Yale University. Only two of her eight seasons there as head coach were winning campaigns, but she did lead the Bulldogs to six straight ECAC playoff seasons. She left the program as the winningest coach (96-126-23) in school history.
After Yale, the Canton, Mass., native returned to her alma mater, Northeastern University, where, as a player, she blossomed into a three-time candidate for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award which goes to the most outstanding player in women’s college hockey.
She served two seasons as an assistant under current Northeastern head coach Dave Flint of Merrimack before jumping to the USA national team as a coach and scout.
She added her silver medal from the 2014 Olympics to the two goal and two silver medals she captured as a U.S. player at the IIHF Women’s World Championship.