DURHAM — Court documents allege that former University of New Hampshire women’s hockey coach Brian McCloskey grabbed a player’s face mask, pulled on her helmet and jersey and shouted, “You can’t talk to me like that,” or something similar, along with an expletive, during a game last November.
UNH fired the longtime coach Dec. 6, citing “inappropriate physical contact” with the player during a home loss to Ohio State on Nov. 30.
McCloskey, 59, is facing three charges of simple assault and one charge of criminal threatening, according to documents filed May 28 in Strafford County Superior Court. All four charges are Class A misdemeanors, and each bears a potential sentence of 12 months in jail and a $2,000 fine. McCloskey had a conference in court Friday, after being released on $1,000 bail June 6.
In January, UNH spokeswoman Erika Mantz said in a prepared statement that “the decision to terminate Coach McCloskey was not made lightly and was warranted ... The safety and well-being of all of our students is and must always be our number-one priority.”
McCloskey was an assistant with UNH’s men’s hockey team before becoming head of the women’s program in 2002. He sought reinstatement and a public apology from university officials over the winter, calling the penalties disproportionate to his actions.
In a redacted letter to colleagues published in January at fosters.com, McCloskey gave his version of what occurred on the bench during the Wildcats game in Durham. He said he reached for an uncooperative player’s jersey, on her shoulder, and sat her on the bench to reprimand her after she yelled at him and turned her back to him.
The indictment describing the criminal threatening charge alleges that McCloskey “purposely placed or attempted to place (the player) in fear of imminent bodily injury or physical contact by grabbing her face mask while shouting” at her.
The indictments describing the assault charges allege that McCloskey pushed or pulled on the player’s face mask, pulled her backward by her jersey and caused “unprivileged physical contact to (the player) by placing his body on top of her,” presumably as he allegedly forced her to sit on the bench.
Mantz had said in January that the incident was not sexual in nature. McCloskey has said through a lawyer that the university harmed his reputation by not clarifying the nature of the inappropriate contact in initial news releases and statements.
The conditions of his release on bail include no contact with the player or her family.
McCloskey guided UNH to five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances between 2006 and 2010 and berths in the Frozen Four in 2006 and 2008. UNH also captured six Hockey East regular season championships under McCloskey, along with tournament championships in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
McCloskey is a three-time New England Hockey Writers Association Coach of the Year (2003, 2006, 2009) and four-time Hockey East Coach of the Year (2003, 2005, 2006, 2009).
A call to Portsmouth criminal defense attorney Alan Cronheim of Sisti Law Offices was not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon. Cronheim is listed as McCloskey’s defense attorney on a case summary filed in court.