Union’s Leaman rewarded with contract extension

In the seven seasons that Nate Leaman has coached the Union men’s hockey team, the Dutchmen have bee

In the seven seasons that Nate Leaman has coached the Union men’s hockey team, the Dutchmen have been consistently earning home ice in the postseason.

Last year, the Dutchmen made history by finishing a program-best third in the ECAC Hockey regular season, and, for the first time, reached the ECAC Hockey tournament final four and played in the championship game. Leaman was named the league’s Coach of the Year.

Two weeks before the start of Union’s 20th Division I season, the school ensured that Leaman will be around the college well into this decade.

Leaman signed a five-year contract extension on Friday. The extension will start with the 2012-13 season and run through 2016-17. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

It’s the second time Leaman has received a contract extension. The other came in August 2008, a two-year deal that begins this season.

“I’m very happy about being a part of this program for a long time,” Leaman said. “There are a lot of areas that, I felt, needed to be improved on for the growth of our program, and all of those were addressed as well. I’m equally very pleased with that. Along with the school’s commitment to me, the school’s making the commitment to our program to help us to continue to succeed. [Union] athletic director Jim McLaughlin’s support of the program is tremendous and greatly appreciated.”

After spending four years as an assistant coach at Harvard, Leaman became the Dutchmen’s fourth Division I head coach on July 29, 2003, when he replaced Kevin Sneddon, who became Vermont’s head coach. Leaman has posted a 112-117-31 record, including a 63-71-20 ECACH mark.

“I love it here,” Leaman said. “I love coming to the rink every day. I love our staff. I think we have a terrific staff. I love the fact that our players can get an outstanding education and compete for championships. That’s what I love about Union College. The trimester system allows the guys to have the best of both worlds.”

Under Leaman, the Dutchmen have earned home-ice advantage in the ECACH tournament six times, including gaining two first-round byes. Two years ago, the Dutchmen won their first-ever Division I playoff series, sweeping Clarkson in the first round.

Last year, the Dutchmen overcame a five-overtime loss to Quinnipiac in Game 1 of the quarterfinals to win the series in three games and advance to championship round for the first time, the final year the final four was played at the Times Union Center. Union beat St. Lawrence, 3-1, in the semifinal before losing to Cornell, 3-0, in the championship game.

Union finished with a 21-12-6 mark, a school record for wins at the Division I level. The Dutchmen were ranked 16th in the USCHO.com NCAA hockey poll. On Tuesday, the ECACH preseason polls came out, and Union was ranked third in the coaches and media polls. It’s the Dutchmen’s highest ranking ever in either poll.

“Nate’s been nothing short of remarkable,” McLaughlin said. “The progress that has been made over the past seven years has been outstanding. It’s not only been what we’ve seen on the ice, from the first playoff series win to advancing to the championship to runners-up in this league, which is a very difficult league. It’s been what’s going on off the ice, from his students’ academic performance and their community service. I couldn’t be more pleased with his leadership and what he has done here.”

Categories: College Sports

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