Coaching staffs at Augustana, Michigan State begin to take shape
The new head coaches for the Vikings and the Spartans may have landed their most important recruits this week, as their coaching staffs come into focus. Also: USA Hockey honors a future Gopher and a former Maverick.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Barely a month into his new exciting and challenging gig as the first head men’s hockey coach at Augustana, Garrett Raboin has heard plenty of jokes about how he’s going to go crazy this coming winter. The Vikings will hold their first real practices in September 2023, meaning that Raboin will spend the next 15 months or so recruiting, planning, ordering equipment and basically doing everything except coaching hockey games.
But at least he will not be alone in the endeavors. At last weekend’s Robertson Cup games in Blaine, Minn., among the myriad logos from other college programs seen among the dozens of coaches there scouting NAHL talent, there were two men wearing Augustana jackets – Raboin and Andy Boschetto, who was recently hired as the Vikings’ first assistant coach.
“I am extremely excited to be adding Andy to our men’s hockey staff,” Raboin said in a statement released by the school. “He will be a tremendous teammate and is someone who I feel brings the same work ethic and commitment to building that we seek in our future players.”
Boschetto, 40, brings to Augustana a vast college hockey background on all levels of the game. Most recently, he coached the defense at Colgate for two years and was on the staff at Niagara for three years before that. Originally from Massachusetts, Boschetto has also coached at the Division III and prep school levels.
“His reputation for building teams and developing players makes him a home-run hire. We are fortunate to have him, and I can’t wait for Andy and his family to get to Augustana,” Raboin said.
It was the latest bit of news in a whirlwind six weeks for South Dakota’s first Division I college hockey program, following the hiring of Rabion shortly after, as Minnesota’s top assistant coach, he helped lead the Gophers to their first Frozen Four appearance since 2014. A few weeks after Raboin came on board, the CCHA announced that the conference will add the Vikings for 16 games in each of their first two seasons, and as a full member in year three.
Midco Arena is currently under construction on the Augustana campus, and the new 3,000-seat rink is expected to be finished in time for the Vikings’ first games in October 2023.
New Spartans coach lands DeMichiel
When Garrett Wait put his name on the transfer list in the summer of 2020 and decided to leave the University of Minnesota, it didn’t take long for the Edina native to get a life-changing call. Jared DeMichiel had watched Wait in the USHL and saw something in the little-used Gophers forward that could help UMass on the ice.
It was less than a year later that Wait, skating for the Minutemen, scored the overtime game-winner in a Frozen Four semifinal game with UMD, and paraded around the ice in Pittsburgh with the national championship trophy two nights later.
New Michigan State coach Adam Nightingale will need to do some hard-core recruting as he rebuilds the Spartans program, but he may have landed his most important recruit this week. DeMichiel, who played a vital role in helping UMass rise from Hockey East afterthought to NCAA champions under head coach Greg Carvel, will be bringing his talents to East Lansing as Nightingale’s associate head coach.
“I’m excited & thankful for the opportunity to work with Adam Nightingale at Michigan State University,” said DeMichiel in a statement from the school. “Adam thoroughly impressed me with our conversations and his vision for the future of Spartan hockey. His passion for MSU runs deep and I’m honored to join him.”
Originally from Connecticut, where he played prep hockey in the renowned Avon Old Farms program, DeMichiel was a member of RIT’s team that made a Cinderella run to the Frozen Four in 2010. As a coach, he got his start at St. Lawrence working for Carvel, then followed Carvel to UMass in 2016. There they inherited eventual Hobey winner Cale Makar and not much else, but had the Minutemen in the national title game in 2019 and alone at the top of the podium two years later.
He joins a Michigan State program that dismissed former head coach Danton Cole in April after five seasons at the helm, during which the Spartans finished in the Big Ten cellar four times. Nightingale returns to his alma mater after a successful stint with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.
USA Hockey honors a former Maverick and a future Gopher
Connor Kurth added one more impressive sentence to the official Minnesota Gophers biography that will be posted on the school’s website this fall. Kurth, a forward from Elk River who will join the Gophers for next season, was named USA Hockey’s national junior hockey player of the year this week.
Kurth, who turns 19 over the summer, put up eye-popping numbers for the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints last winter, scoring 25 goals and adding 46 assists in 62 games. He is the fourth Gophers recruit to win the award, joining Ryan Potulny (2003), Taylor Cammarata (2013) and Rem Pitlick (2016).
USA Hockey also gave out its national college player of the year award this week, and not many were surprised to see Hobey winner Dryden McKay grab the trophy. McKay is the third consecutive player from the region to be so honored by USA Hockey, which has named this award after Rochester, Minn., native Jim Johannson. Wisconsin star Cole Caufield won it last season, and UMD’s Scott Perunovich won the award in 2020.