Former Dutchmen Christiansen’s resignation as Indy Fuel coach adds intrigue to vacant Union men’s hockey coaching opening

Former Union College hockey player Doug Christiansen resigned as head coach and general manager of the ECHL's Indy Fuel on Monday, fueling speculation that he could be a candidate for the Union head coaching position. (Photo courtesy Whiteshark Photography)

Former Union College hockey player Doug Christiansen resigned as head coach and general manager of the ECHL's Indy Fuel on Monday, fueling speculation that he could be a candidate for the Union head coaching position. (Photo courtesy Whiteshark Photography)

The search for a new Union College men’s hockey coach just got a little more interesting.

Doug Christiansen, who was a forward and defenseman for the Dutchmen from 1998-2002, resigned as head coach and general manager of the ECHL’s Indy Fuel on Monday.

Christiansen, who has been mentioned as a candidate for the Union opening created when head coach Rick Bennett resigned Jan. 28, was in his fourth season with the Fuel.

The ECHL is a step below the AHL.

I would like to thank the players and staff for all of their hard work,” Christiansen said in a press release. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done in Indy, including the franchise’s first playoff victory and helping numerous players achieve their goal of playing in the AHL. The ownership and I have agreed to part ways at this time so that I may pursue opportunities that are a better fit for me and my family. I wish the Indy Fuel the best in the future.”

Contacted by the Gazette on Tuesday if that meant he was applying for the Union vacancy, Christiansen declined comment.

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Prior to coaching the Fuel, the 43-year-old Christiansen was director of player development for the United States Hockey League, a junior league based in the Midwest. Before that, Christiansen coached in Great Britain’s Elite Ice Hockey League for the Edinburgh Capitals, Belfast Giants and Sheffield Steelers. He won the EIHL title with the Giants in 2013-14.

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Christiansen’s brother Jeff played for Union from 2006-10.

In an interview with the Gazette on Saturday, Union athletic director Jim McLaughlin said he wants a coach in place by the time the college hockey coaches convention starts April 18. He added that formal interviews have not started yet, but was looking at starting them after the NCAA hockey tournament regionals, which start next Thursday and conclude three days later.

FOUR DUTCHMEN ENTER TRANSFER PORTAL

Four Union players will be looking for new places to play college hockey next season.

Senior defensemen Brandon Estes and Ryan Sidorski, junior goalie Garrett Nieto and sophomore forward Gleb Murtazin have entered the NCAA transfer portal. The news was first reported by College Hockey Insider.

Estes and Sidorski each have one year of eligibility remaining because the Dutchmen didn’t play last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. They have no choice but to transfer because Union doesn’t have graduate classes.

Estes led the team in scoring this season with seven goals and 22 assists in 37 games. He is the first Union defenseman to lead the team in scoring since Jeff Sproat did it in 1999-2000.

Sidorski played in 35 games and had three assists.

Nieto played in three games, going 0-1-1 with a 4.18 goals-against average and an .840. The last game he played was Jan. 15, when he replaced Connor Murphy in the first period of the Dutchmen’s 8-2 loss at Clarkson.

Murtazin appeared in 16 games and had two goals and one assist. His final game for the Dutchmen was Jan. 26 at Dartmouth.

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