A look at potential candidates for the Union men’s hockey head coaching job

Union men's hockey interim head coach John Ronan gives a fist pump as the team heads into the locker room during the Mayor's Cup game Saturday at MVP Arena.

Union men's hockey interim head coach John Ronan gives a fist pump as the team heads into the locker room during the Mayor's Cup game Saturday at MVP Arena.

SCHENECTADY — Union men’s hockey interim head coach John Ronan is off to a good start running the Dutchmen.

Union is 3-1 since Ronan took over for Rick Bennett, who resigned as head coach on Friday after an allegation about his coaching style and practices that was substantiated through an investigation by the school. Bennett was first placed on paid administrative leave on Jan. 20.

Ronan will coach his fifth game Tuesday at 7 p.m., when the Dutchmen (9-12-3) host LIU (7-14-3) at Messa Rink. The game was recently added to the schedule after the two-game series against UMass New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day was canceled because the team was in COVID-19 health-and-safety protocols.

A coaching search will begin this week, Union athletic director Jim McLaughlin said during Friday’s press conference announcing Bennett’s resignation. McLaughlin said he wanted someone in place by the time the college hockey coaches convention gets underway in April.

This will be McLaughlin’s first men’s college hockey head coaching search. McLaughlin promoted Bennett from associate head coach to head coach after then-head coach Nate Leaman announced he was leaving Union to become head coach at Providence College after the 2010-11 season.

“This is wide open,” McLaughlin said Monday. “I feel that as though I have some great contacts in the field that can be very helpful, great resources, a terrific job that got better last Saturday.”

Ronan will be considered for the job, McLaughlin said.

“John is a candidate,” McLaughlin said.

Here is a list of potential candidates. They are listed in no particular order.


Ronan rejoined the Union coaching staff in 2016-17. He was a volunteer assistant coach on Union’s 2014 NCAA title team. Before returning to Union, Ronan was an assistant coach at Mercyhurst. He played college hockey at Maine from 2001-05, and was the team captain his senior season. Ronan played in the 2003 and 2005 Frozen Fours. Maine lost to Minnesota in 2003 and Denver in 2005.


Dumais is in his sixth season as associate head coach at Quinnipiac, but has ties to Union. He was hired by Bennett after Bennett took over as head coach in 2011 when Nate Leaman left for Providence. With Dumais behind the bench, the Dutchmen won three straight ECAC Hockey tournament titles, made two NCAA Frozen Four appearances and won the 2014 championship. Dumais was acting head coach during Bennett’s four-game suspension for his role in the Mayor’s Cup postgame brawl in 2014. The Dutchmen went 3-1.


Tapp spent 11 seasons with Union, first as a volunteer assistant coach under Leaman, and then an assistant, and later associate head coach, under Bennett. He left at the end of the 2019-20 season to become associate head coach at Dartmouth. A goalie for Boston University from 1998-2002, Tapp is credited with helping develop strong goalies at Union like Keith Kinkaid, Troy Grosenick, Colin Stevens and Darion Hanson. He also helped develop defensemen like Mat Bodie and Shayne Gostisbehere.


Beal, who played at Union from 2001-05, is an assistant coach at Providence under Leaman. Beal was on Bennett’s staff from 2011-13. He served as head coach of the Troy Albany Youth Hockey Minor Midget AAA team, and as an assistant coach at Albany Academy. Prior to joining Providence, Beal was an assistant coach at Miami (Ohio).


Another former Union hockey player, Varady is in his second stint as head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. Varady was an assistant coach for the Coyotes last season. Varady played for Union from 1997-2000 before a neck injury ended his career. He was a student assistant coach for the Dutchmen under head coach Kevin Sneddon in 2000-01. Varaday has coached in Europe and junior hockey.


Lang is in his sixth season as head coach at American International. Under Lang, the Yellow Jackets have gone from 8-20-8 in 2016-17 to three consecutive Atlantic Hockey regular season titles and two straight conference tournament championships (the 2020 tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic). In the 2019 NCAA tournament West Regional, 16th-seeded AIC stunned top-seeded St. Cloud State 2-1.


Stewart is in his eighth season as associate head coach at the University of New Hampshire. He works with the forwards and the penalty kill. Stewart played for UNH from 1991-95. He has also worked as an assistant coach at AIC (2003-04), UConn (2005-09) and Merrimack (2009-14). He was the recruiting coordinator at UConn for three seasons.


Rolston is in his third season at Providence, and the second as the team’s associate head coach. He has a wealth of coaching experience both in college and the pros. Rolston has been an assistant coach at Lake Superior State (1990-95), Clarkson (1996-99), Harvard (1999-2002) and Boston College (2002-04). He was the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. He was also a head coach in the AHL with the Rochester Americans and Springfield Falcons.


Ayers is in his second season as Boston College associate head coach, and eighth season overall, under the legendary BC head coach Jerry York. Ayers is in charge of the Eagles’ penalty kill, and they led the nation last year with 11 shorthanded goals. Ayers was a goalie at UNH, playing in 102 career games from 2000-04 and posting a 58-25-12 record.


Pereira is in his ninth season at UConn, and has been the Huskies’ associate head coach since the 2018-19 season. He works with the team’s forwards and power play. Periera was a forward for Boston University from 2007-11 and was a member of the Terriers’ 2009 national championship team. Pereira played in 139 career games, collecting 27 goals and 34 assists.

Categories: College Sports, Sports

Leave a Reply