Rick Bennett not in mix for UMass hockey job; Ex-Minuteman Dean Stork hoping to be

  • Union head coach Rick Bennett said he hasn’t been apart of UMass’ coaching search. AP

Published: 3/18/2016 8:58:43 PM

Rick Bennett said he isn’t in the mix to be UMass’ next hockey coach. Former Minuteman Dean Stork would like to be.

Bennett, the Union College coach and Springfield native, told College Hockey News that he wasn’t part of UMass’ search process. Bennett’s name had surfaced as a potential candidate, given his ties to the region and success at Union. His comments implied that he hasn’t been part of the process.

“As far as the UMass position, obviously I am honored and humbled to be considered in the mix,” Bennett told CHN. “But I think it was a lot of noise.”

That’s good news for Stork. The former UMass defenseman and captain is hoping to be considered for the job that opened when the school announced the firing of John Micheletto earlier this month.

Stork said he’s already had a phone conversation with UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford.

“We spoke for about an hour and it went really well,” Stork said. “He told me it’s not going to be a week or two weeks. He said that he’s going to be putting together a list and the next step is a face to face fly-in to meet and sit down with him.”

Stork said lifting his alma mater was important to him personally and professionally.

“I want to put UMass back on the map. We have to win now. We have to stop the bleeding,” Stork said. “I’ve been very successful in my career coaching. I thought this would be a great, great thing being a former player there. They need someone in there that can win.”

The 40-year-old cut his teeth coaching in the ECHL, the NHL’s equivalent of Major League Baseball’s Double-A.

Stork turned pro in 1999 following his junior season at UMass and played briefly in the AHL before playing for six franchises over seven seasons in the ECHL. He coached former Minutemen Mark Matheson, Danny Hobbs, Jeff Lang and Mike Marcou in the ECHL.

Stork was a four-year assistant for Cincinnati in the ECHL before becoming the head coach of the Greenville Road Warriors. He led Greenville to the ECHL playoffs in four of his five seasons there. He was 201-131-28 in five seasons.

He was hired as the first head coach at Jamestown University in North Dakota, which will begin play as an ACHA team this fall. The ACHA is an organization of non-NCAA collegiate programs. He spent the 2015-16 season recruiting players for the Jimmies inaugural season.

Stork said he’s long had his eye on Amherst, where he hopes to raise the standing of his alma mater.

“I want to change that culture completely around. My message over the years has been ‘Expect to win, every day,’” said Stork, who completed his bachelor’s degree from UMass and has taken classes toward his master’s degree. “I want to take over UMass and build a legacy of winning. UMass is my home. That’s my destination. I believe I’m an excellent candidate.”

Stork said over 100 former UMass players have reached out to him in one way or another to support his candidacy. He said many of them have spoken to school administrators on his behalf.

“I’m very grateful and very honored that so many former players have been backing me and supporting me,” Stork said. “I had my phone ringing off the hook.”

Stork, who has dual American and Canadian citizenship, said his love of the program and the school would serve him well on the recruiting trail.

“We need someone in there to scrap and fight for the University of Mass.,” Stork said. “Look at our Mullins Center. Look at the campus and the dorms. I lived in Thoreau, I lived in Cance, I lived off campus in the community. It’s a beautiful campus and a beautiful area. You need to sell that university. That’s how we’re going to get these kids in.

“I can guarantee this. I will find the best players in North America,” he continued. “And I have a lot of connections and networks in Russia and Finland and Sweden. That’s another contact in order to win.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage

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