The RPI men’s hockey team has gone to western New York to find its new head coach.
Dave Smith, who has been the head coach at Canisius College in Buffalo for 12 seasons, will be named the new Engineers coach. A press conference is scheduled for Thursday.
Smith will replace Seth Appert, who was fired March 6 after posting a 152-221-48 record in 11 seasons. RPI went 8-28-1, including 6-16 for an 11th-place finish in ECAC Hockey, this season. The 28 losses is a school record, and the third most nationally this season. Only Niagara (31) and UMass (29) had more losses.
Smith was one of four finalists for the job. The others were Ben Barr, the former Engineer player and Union assistant head coach who is currently an assistant coach at UMass; Quinnipiac associate head coach Bill Riga, another former Union assistant; and Oswego head coach Ed Gosek.
The candidates were selected by Parker Executive Research, a firm hired by the college that specializes in athletic searches.
Reached at his office late Monday afternoon, Smith declined to comment on the news that he was being hired.
RPI athletic director Dr. Lee McElroy didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.
Smith has a 172-223-59 career record at Canisius. He guided the Golden Griffins to their first Atlantic Hockey regular-season title this season with an 18-4-6 record. They reached the Atlantic Hockey tournament semifinals, and were briefly ranked in the USCHO.com NCAA hockey poll late in the season. Smith was named Atlantic Hockey Coach of the Year, and he’s a finalist for the American Hockey Coaches Association’s Spencer Penrose Award as national coach of the year. He’s up against nine other coaches, including Union’s Rick Bennett.
The Golden Griffins won one Atlantic Hockey tournament title under Smith. That came in 2013.
This season, Canisius was 7-10-4 after a 2-1 loss to St. Lawrence on Jan. 7. Six days later, the Golden Griffins beat Air Force 4-1. That started a 17-game unbeaten (14-0-3) streak for the Golden Griffins. The streak was snapped with a 6-2 loss to Robert Morris in the Atlantic Hockey tournament semifinals March 17.
Smith graduated from Ohio State University in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/public relations, and was a four-year letterwinner for the Buckeyes. Smith finished his career at Ohio State with 140 points, ranking 14th all-time. He was selected as team captain as a junior and chosen as the team’s MVP as a senior, while leading the Buckeyes with 41 assists and 63 points.
Smith was named Canisius’ third head coach on April 15, 2005. Prior to that, he was associate head coach at Mercyhurst College for three seasons. Before that, Smith had assistant coaching jobs at Bowling Green and Miami (Ohio).
Barr was considered to be the front-runner for the job. Numerous sources said he interviewed for it. Barr declined to comment.
He played for the Engineers from 2000-04. His most memorable moment came in Game 2 of the 2003 ECAC Hockey tournament first-round series against Union, when he scored two short-handed goals 50 seconds apart in the third period to give RPI a series-clinching 3-2 victory.
After serving as a volunteer assistant coach at RPI under Appert in 2007-08, Barr was an assistant coach at Union by head coach Nate Leamen from 2008-11. Barr joined Leaman at Providence when Leaman was named head coach there after the 2010-11 season. Barr then moved to Western Michigan to become associate head coach under Andy Murray. After two seasons there, Barr joined UMass as an assistant coach when Greg Carvel became the head coach last offseason.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Ken Schott at 395-3159, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @slapschotts. Read his take on college hockey any time by checking out his blog, Parting Schotts, at https://dailygazette.com/