June 23, 2018
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Former UMaine hockey captain Jim Montgomery to be named Denver coach

Jim Montgomery
By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

DENVER, Colo. — Former University of Maine captain Jim Montgomery, who helped lead the Black Bears to their first NCAA hockey championship in 1992-93, is expected to be announced Monday as the new head coach at the University of Denver.

The Denver Post on Saturday cited multiple sources as saying Montgomery has been hired for the job and will replace 19-year head coach George Gwozdecky.

The 43-year-old Montgomery, who has spent three successful seasons as the head coach and general manager of the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States (Junior A amateur) Hockey League, was one of four finalists.

According to an earlier Denver Post report, Seth Appert, a former Denver assistant who has spent the last seven years as the head coach at ECAC member Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, withdrew his name from consideration Saturday after receiving an eight-year extension from RPI. Appert was considered the favorite for the job.

Montgomery, a Hobey Baker Award finalist, had served as an assistant at RPI under Appert.

The other finalists were former Denver assistant Derek Lalonde, the head coach of the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, and nine-year Boston College assistant Greg Brown.

Two-time All-American Montgomery, the school’s all-time leading scorer with 301 points in 170 games, said he had “no comment” on the rumor when contacted by phone Saturday afternoon.

Montgomery had said last week he had hoped UMaine officials would contact him about applying for the vacant Maine job but they didn’t.

He said Thursday he was “shocked and stunned” that they hadn’t and he added that there was “no doubt in my mind” he could return the program to national prominence.

Maine athletic director Steve Abbott said Sunday that he talked to Montgomery at the end of UMaine’s season.

Montgomery is a member of the University of Maine Sports Hall of Fame and has had his No. 19 jersey retired.

After nine straight appearances in the NCAA tournament, Maine has earned just one berth over the past six seasons, and 12-year head coach Tim Whitehead was fired Tuesday with one year left on his contract. The university bought him out for $195,000.

Abbott said Friday nobody had been contacted about the job and a search committee would be put together this week to begin the process. He said UM wants to take its time to make sure it lands the right coach.

Montgomery, who also spent time as an assistant at Notre Dame, has guided the Fighting Saints to a 116-45-21 regular season record. They won the Clark Cup (playoff champion) as a first-year franchise in 2010-11, when Montgomery was named the league’s general manager of the year.

His current team went 43-11-8, the league’s best mark.

Maine went 250-171-54 under Whitehead but just 96-102-28 over the past six seasons.

Gwozdecky compiled a 443-267-64 record at Denver and his Pioneer teams have won at least 20 games the past 12 seasons. They won back-to-back national championships in 2004 and 2005. They beat Maine 1-0 in the championship game in 2004 in the TD Garden in Boston.

But they have lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament five times over the past six seasons.

Including his five seasons at Miami, Gwozdecky has a career record of 593-391-85 and 17 of his 24 teams have won at least 20 games.

The 59-year-old Gwozdecky has said he would be interested in the Maine job.

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