When he was an assistant coach for the Colgate women’s hockey team, Josh Sciba recruited forward Breanne Wilson-Bennett to come to the Hamilton campus and play for the Raiders for the 2014-15 season.
Seven years later, Sciba recruited Wilson-Bennett again, this time to join his staff of the Union College women’s hockey team.
Wilson-Bennett is one of two new assistant coaches for the Dutchwomen (the other is Chris Ardito), who will play their first game since the 2019-20 season against RIT on Oct. 1 in Rochester.
“It’s come full circle,” Wilson-Bennett said. “I loved him as a coach. I was applying for another position, a graduate assistant [at Castleton], and wanted to use Josh as a reference just because he knows my hockey ability and a little bit about my background, so I reached out.”
This happened before the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down the Dutchwomen’s 2020-21 season. Sciba told Wilson-Bennett that he was looking for new assistant coaches.
“We stayed in touch,” said Wilson-Bennett, who played professionally last season for the Toronto Six of the National Women’s Hockey League (which was recently rebranded as the Premier Hockey Federation). “We went through the interview process. I knew I wanted to be coaching at the highest level possible in women’s hockey, so I turned down that grad assistant [job] and kind of went all in on this opportunity. I’m super excited to be working with him on this side of the bench now. I know his vast knowledge of the game is something that will help further my career. I can learn so, so much from him.”
Wilson-Bennett had an outstanding career at Colgate. She’s ranked 11th on the Raiders’ all-time career scoring list with 101 points on 49 goals and 52 assists. In her senior season in 2018, she helped the Raiders reach the NCAA Frozen Four championship game, where they lost to ECAC Hockey-rival Clakrson 2-1 in overtime. In a 4-3 double-overtime win over Wisconsin in the semifinals, Wilson-Bennett scored three goals, including the OT winner, and added an assist.
When Wilson-Bennett arrived at Colgate, she joined a team that had not had a winning season since 2008-09. In her first season, the Raiders went 7-25-2.
That would be her only losing season. Colgate went 22-9-7 in 2015-16. That was followed by a 22-11-3 record in 2016-17 and then 34-6-1 in 2017-18.
“When we recruited her, we were trying to change that program a little bit,” Sciba said. “When you look at her game, she did everything. She had an element of tenacity to her game. She was a resilient kid. She did everything. She was a hard worker. She was someone that played an aggressive style, could play in every situation we thought. We really liked how hard she competed, and I think we wanted someone that had that grit factor [to her game].”
It was those characteristics that led Sciba to hire Wilson-Bennett.
“I think when you talk to Bre, she’s an extremely confident young woman,” Sciba said. “She’s very articulate, she’s able to speak well. She’s obviously had a great education at Colgate. But when you look at the experiences she’s had as a player, just knowing her as a person and what she has gone through, I think when you look at all of that stuff, it’s things that we want for our girls. So now when we’re trying to share messages with our players, we know that we have someone on our staff that can actually communicate that, that lived it, that went through it, and I think that makes our messages that much more powerful when you have a young female that has done the same things that our girls can look up to.”