UMass hockey search has some familiar names

  • Cornell coach Mike Schafer looks over his team during practice in Buffalo, N.Y., Wednesday, April 9, 2003. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli) AP FILE

  • Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy talks to his team during overtime in a Northeast regional semifinal game against Notre Dame in the NCAA college hockey tournament in 2011. (AP Photo/Josh Gibney) AP FILE

Published: 3/25/2016 9:54:43 PM

The search for the next UMass hockey coach appears to be winding down as it enters its third week.

According to multiple sources, UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford has met with at least three candidates — Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy, Cornell coach Mike Schafer and Harvard assistant Paul Pearl.

UMass has been searching for a coach since John Micheletto was fired following the Minutemen’s season-ending loss to Boston University in the Hockey East Tournament on March 5.

Bamford is not granting interview requests until the search is completed.

Dennehy has long been considered a logical candidate. He was UMass’ top assistant during the Minutemen’s peak (2000-05) under former coach Toot Cahoon. Dennehy declined to be considered when Cahoon left in 2012, but reportedly interviewed with Bamford last week.

Dennehy has a career record of 141-206-50, but is credited with making Merrimack, a Division II program in all sports but hockey, a competitive program in Hockey East. The Warriors were perennially at or near the bottom of the league prior to his arrival.

Pearl was a candidate and met with UMass officials in 2012 before pulling out of the search. Back then he was the head coach at Holy Cross, where he was the school’s all-time winningest coach (297-293-69) over 19 years.

Frustrated with Holy Cross’ lack of commitment to hockey, he left the Crusaders after the 2013-14 season to become the associate head coach at Harvard.

Schafer has been coaching his alma mater for 21 seasons. He’s amassed a 391-233-84 record and nine NCAA Tournament appearances.

Cornell was 16-11-7 in 2015-16 and 8-8-6 in the ECAC. Bamford’s father Steve is a long-time administrator in the ECAC.

Matt Vautour can be reached at Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at


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