LSSU hires new head hockey coach

Courtesy of LSSU Athletics

SAULT STE. MARIE – After conducting a thorough national search, Lake Superior State University has named Damon Whitten the 10th head coach in the 48-year history of Laker hockey.

Whitten was introduced at a press conference Saturday at the Cisler Center and introduced to media and the public by LSSU Director of Athletics Kris Dunbar, who headed the search committee.

Dunbar said of Whitten, “Damon brings a strong work ethic and positive energy to the Laker Hockey Program.  We had a lot of very qualified candidates apply for the position but in the end we felt that Coach Whitten was the one to move the program forward.”

Whitten has been an assistant coach at Michigan Tech since July, 2010, and has worked under several coaches who are familiar friends and rivals of LSSU. He is a 2001 graduate of Michigan State University, where he played for hall of fame coach Ron Mason. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in communication from MSU he earned a master’s in sports administration in 2005.

Of becoming the head coach of the Lakers Whitten said, “It’s a great honor to be named head coach of LSSU hockey. Laker hockey has a rich and storied tradition.” He went on to state, “It will be our responsibility to rebuild this tradition in the manner that coaching greats such as Rick Comley, Ron Mason, and Jeff Jackson once did.”

“Our job will begin immediately to reach out to alumni, fans, recruits, and the community during our quest to restore Laker hockey.  Our family is very excited to join the Sault Ste Marie community and become part of the Laker hockey family. ”

While coaching with Mel Pearson at MTU, he helped the Huskies implement a new fore-check, neutral zone defense and zone entries. He was responsible for in-game defensive matchups and academic performance, and assisted with all facets of practice, game preparation and recruiting. During his first season at MTU (2010-11), the Huskies enjoyed their best start since 1972, and in 2011-12 they reached the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five. This season they placed fifth in the WCHA standings.

Whitten spent two seasons as the director of hockey operations at MSU and worked under two-time Spencer Penrose national coach of the year Rick Comley. During that time, his responsibilities included video work, budget management, travel coordination, and booster and alumni relations. He was also a graduate assistant coach at MSU in 2003-04.

He assisted Dave Shyiak at Alaska Anchorage during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons and Bill Wilkinson at Wayne State in 2004-05 and 2005-06.

While playing at MSU, the Spartans amassed an impressive 122-28-20 record, won three Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season titles and three playoff championships, and made two Frozen Four appearances. Whitten was an assistant captain of a senior class that owns the Spartans’ all-time highest win percentage. During his final season, MSU led the nation in goals-against (1.36) and penalty killing (.911).

Whitten, a native of Brighton, Mich., totaled 35-40—75 in 166 games as a left wing at MSU. He was a three-time academic All-Big Ten At Large honoree and two-time NCAA Hockey Humanitarian Award nominee. He played two professional seasons in the ECHL – one with Greenville and one with Arkansas. He won a Kelly Cup championship with the Greenville Grrrowl in 2001-02.