Dan Lichterman said his wife, Shari, has made plenty of sacrifices for him as he pursued his hockey coaching career.
So it was time for him to reciprocate.
That meant stepping down after three seasons as the head women’s ice hockey coach at the University of Maine.
He had originally signed a three-year contract. Lichterman’s resignation was announced on Thursday by the university.
His wife is the U.S. business development director and a regional general manager for the Canlan Ice Sports Corp. which operates 22 sports facilities that encompass 63 full-sized ice arenas, two indoor soccer fields and three curling surfaces across Canada and the United States.
“This is what’s best for our family right now. It’s the right time while the kids are still young before they get too ingrained in the community here. Shari has moved a lot of places for me,” said Lichterman.
The Lichtermans have two children, 5-year-old A.J. and 2-year-old Emma, and the family will be relocating to Toronto after the school year ends.
“Shari has been on the road quite a bit over the last couple of months and I told our team I couldn’t make the commitment necessary to do what I needed to do for them and the program and also make the commitment I need to make to my family,” said Lichterman.
Lichterman guided the Black Bears to a 15-70-13 record but they improved by one win each year. They were 6-20-5 this past season.
“I’d like to think the program is in a better spot than it was when I started,” said Lichterman. “You can look at the scores in the paper and make your own judgements. We really did a good job getting things cleaned up within our house and creating a good culture within the team. The players did quite a bit in the community and the classroom. I’m proud of what our women accomplished.
“I really feel they are in a spot where they can succeed,” added Lichterman. “That’s not to say it won’t be challenging. But I really believe the kids are in place.”
He also said, “The hardest thing is not being able to see it through. I knew coming in here that it wasn’t going to be a one-year fix. It was going to take some time.”
The records may not have improved significantly but the goal differential did.
In his first season, when Maine went 4-27-3, the Black Bears were outscored 128-51. They were 5-23-5 two years ago and were outscored 119-67.
This past season, they were outscored 85-63.
The Bears never made the Hockey East playoffs but were challenging for a spot this season until they lost their final 10 games, being outscored 30-10.
Leading scorer Jenna Ouellette suffered a season-ending broken ankle two minutes into a 1-0 loss at Vermont on Feb. 6 and missed the final four games.
Maine athletic director Blake James said Lichterman did a “very good job” after inheriting a difficult situation.
Lichterman was Maine’s third coach in three years after one-year interim head coach Lauren Steblen decided not to pursue the job. She had succeeded Guy Perron, who left to become an assistant coach for the Maine men’s hockey team.
“It’s always easy to evaluate a program in terms of wins and losses. But there’s a lot more to coaching and running a program than just wins and losses,” said James. “Our goals are to achieve excellence athletically, academically and to represent the university positively in the community.
“In two of the three, we have had a significant amount of success within the women’s program. We may not have achieved to the level we would have liked to, athletically, but it is a work in progress,” said James.
Lichterman, who earned $45,000 this past year, said he enjoyed his time at Maine and praised former assistant Sara Simard and current assistants Karine Senecal and David Stockdale for going “above and beyond what their duties should have been” along with school President Robert Kennedy with “helping us find extra fund-ing for recruiting.”
“… We’ve got a great corps of kids right now. We’ve created a culture that leads to success and now the players just have to achieve it,” he said.
There will be a national search and James hopes to name the new coach as soon as possible.