The Valley News has been selected to add two journalists — a photojournalist and a climate and environment reporter — to our newsroom through Report for America, a national service program that boosts local news by harnessing community support.

Please consider donating to this effort.

New Dartmouth Coach Hopes To Help Recruiting

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/2/2016 12:18:08 AM
Modified: 5/2/2016 12:32:36 PM

Laura Schuler’s tenure as Dartmouth College’s new women’s ice hockey coach could be interrupted by a leave of absence to guide the 2018 Canadian women’s Olympic team. Announced in an April 22 news release as the Big Green’s new bench boss, Schuler said last week that she’s in the running to guide her homeland’s entry at the PyeongChang, South Korea, event in less than two years. 

The plan, said Schuler and Dartmouth athletics director Harry Sheehy, would be for the Big Green’s as yet unnamed top assistant to run the program on an interim basis for roughly a year. Schuler, who spent the past year as coach of the Canadian national team, said the country’s Olympic organization plans to announce its women’s hockey coach later this month.

“It’s a huge recruiting edge to do both and I hope it works out,” said Schuler, previously a longtime assistant at Minnesota-Duluth. “My priority is to make sure we get the (Dartmouth) program up and running and if it works out with Hockey Canada, great.”

Said Sheehy: “It just doesn’t concern me. The key piece is getting an assistant who can be a de facto head coach if we need it. I want (Schuler) to have some sort of connection with the national program because that’s going to be a pipeline for recruiting.”

Dartmouth desperately needs to enrich its recruiting. The Big Green graduates three of its top four scorers in Laura Stacey, Lindsey Allen and Ailish Forfar, along with three other seniors and impact players. It can be argued that the only notable performers remaining are goaltender Robyn Chemago and forward Kennedy Ottenbreit. The program’s talent and depth this coming season threaten to be at their lowest in decades. And that’s for a team coming off a 6-19-3 campaign.

“It’s going to be rebuilding and it may take a bit to get some key players in there again,” Schuler said. “But there’s a good core and we’ll have to work hard at building offense. We have very inspiring women who are eager to buy into my vision and see where it can take us.”

Schuler played at Northeastern during the early 1990s, when it, Providence and New Hampshire were still powers in the sport, along with several Ivy League teams. She began her coaching career with three years at UMass-Boston, then led the program at her alma mater, where she was 23-99-10 during four seasons.

“I took over a (Northeastern) team with 10 players and three goalies and a program that wasn’t as well-supported then as it is now,” Schuler said, adding that she never had a fulltime assistant and dealt with a recruiting budget less than half as large as Northeastern’s rivals.

“I’ve grown a lot since then and been mentored by Hockey Canada and by NHL coaches and learned a tremendous amount about leadership and hockey in general.”

From Northeastern, Schuler moved on to UMD and helped the Bulldogs win the 2010 national title under former Canadian Olympic coach Shannon Miller. The coach and her staff were let go last year, however, and Miller and several other UMD sports coaches have sued the university for a combined $18 million , alleging they were fired because they were female and gay.

Schuler, who is gay but did not join in the suit, was reticent when asked about the saga.

She said that last she knew, Miller was living in Florida but that the two have not stayed in touch.

The Canadian national team job, which Schuler described as “contract work”, came without benefits, she said, but was another step up the coaching ladder and boosted her chances of returning to NCAA hockey as a Division I head coach. The one she landed with is 28-54-6 the past three seasons, endured a 15-game winless streak last winter and dropped four of its last six games, scoring once during its final three contests.

“Dartmouth has been really supportive of me vying for the Olympic job,” Schuler said. “They’ve seen Harvard and Princeton reap the benefits of having a connection with an Olympic program. If I’m named to the (Canadian) staff, I’d be gone this coming season for week-long training camps in September and December and for the Four Nations Cup in November and the World Championships after (Dartmouth’s) season is over.”

Should she be the head coach, a year away from Hanover would follow, hopefully peaking with earning a gold medal. Meanwhile, the Big Green would be guided by an assistant who’s yet to be hired.

“That’s why that choice is such an important decision,” said Schuler, adding that she’s been talking with candidates by phone and in person almost nonstop since her hiring was announced.

“As long as you have a good plan in place, it’s very doable. I’ll be at Dartmouth for a whole year and getting everyone to understand the direction of the program.

“I don’t see it as a (negative) issue, but only as an advantage.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at or 603-727-3227.

Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784


© 2020 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy