Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey coach Seth Appert was intrigued with a chance to return to the University of Denver, a place where, as an assistant coach, he helped the Pioneers win two NCAA hockey titles.
But in the end, Appert knew in his heart where he belongs.
On Saturday, Appert ended any speculation that he would leave RPI for Denver. He signed a three-year contract extension with RPI.
Appert, who received a contract extension after the 2010-11 season, just completed his seventh season at RPI. His contract will run through the 2020-21 season.
He guided the team to a second-place finish in ECAC Hockey this season, its best finish since he became coach. The Engineers went 12-7-3 in ECACH play, and 18-14-5 overall. RPI closed the regular season 10-2, including a six-game winning streak.
Appert has a career record of 99-136-31. RPI reached the NCAA tournament in 2011.
“The decision to stay wasn’t that hard,” Appert said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for what our university stands for, and what our values are, and in the leadership of [RPI president] Dr. [Shirley] Jackson and [athletic director] Jim Knowlton and where our program came from in the last seven years — how far we’ve come, how close we are.
“I still think there are things for me to finish, and I’m excited about the challenge.”
Appert declined to discuss what was discussed in his interview at Denver. The school fired George Gwozdecky on April 1 after 19 years
as head coach. Appert was an
assistant coach under Gwozdecky for nine years before taking over at RPI. When Appert was there, the Pioneers won the NCAA title in 2004 and 2005.
“There’s not many, if any, jobs that I would even consider talking to anybody about. I think that highly of RPI,” Appert said. “I’m also that loyal to them because of the belief and the trust they’ve shown in me, not only during our last four years when we’ve gotten a lot better, but in those first few years when we weren’t very good. That means a lot to me.
“Denver, because of my history there, my relationship with the alumni, coach Gwozdecky, [associate head coach] Steve Miller, that takes it [interviewing there] into consideration. But at the end of the day, my heart’s at RPI.”
Appert had the OK from Gwozdecky to interview for the Denver job.
“I would never do anything without coach’s blessing,” Appert said. “He’s my mentor. He’s one of the people I’m closest to in my life.”
Knowlton is happy that Appert is staying.
“It’s fantastic,” Knowlton said. “I have a great relationship with Seth. We’ve talked about this ever since coach Gwozdecky’s contract was not renewed. It was a great
opportunity. It was the right thing for him to investigate it. I know he absolutely loves it here at RPI. We’ve been very, very pleased with what he does with our student-athletes on the ice and off the ice, and with the community.
“At the end of the day, we’re excited he decided to stay.”
The Denver Post reported that former Maine star forward Jim Montgomery will be named the new Denver coach on Monday. Montgomery, who is the coach and general manager of the U.S. Hockey League’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, was an assistant coach under Appert from 2006-10.
RPI will host Denver at Houston Field House Dec. 13-14.