August 21, 2012

Veteran college and prep coach DiGiulian selected as Saint Michael's head coach

COLCHESTER, Vt. - Damian DiGiulian, a veteran local college and prep coach, has been hired as the Saint Michael's College men's ice hockey head coach, Director of Athletics Geri Knortz announced on Tuesday. DiGiulian, who has also coached in the USA Hockey development system, becomes just the third head coach since the program was elevated to varsity status for the 1982-83 season. He begins his duties in late August.

During the past three seasons, DiGiulian was the head coach and director of hockey for the Rice Memorial High School prep program, which he created in 2009. The South Burlington-based squad went 36-12-3 in 2010-11, its second year of existence, while winning the New England Fall Prep Hockey League (NEFPHL) title.

"I am both excited and humbled to be named the next head coach of Saint Michael's men's ice hockey, and I want to thank all of the people involved in the search process," said DiGiulian. "I would also like to thank all of the people at Rice Memorial for the wonderful time I spent there, and wish them nothing best the best of luck as they move forward with Rice Prep Hockey."

DiGiulian was an assistant coach at Division III Middlebury College during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, as the Panthers went a combined 37-14-3 while reaching the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament championship game both winters. Middlebury was 26-9-3 in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) East as a league counterpart to Saint Michael's.

"Damian is a seasoned coach with a solid reputation for developing quality young men through the sport of hockey," said Knortz. "His combined 11 years of experience as an assistant coach at the University of Vermont and Middlebury College, along with his most recent head coaching experience with Rice Prep Hockey, make him an exceptional choice."

Between the 1997-98 and 2005-06 seasons, DiGiulian was an assistant coach at the Division I University of Vermont, which he helped qualify for the postseason seven times, including in 2005-06 during the program's first year in Hockey East. The Catamounts advanced in ECAC Division I Championship play three times during his tenure, including after posting a 13-6-3 league mark in 2004-05. During his nine winters with Vermont, DiGiulian was heavily involved in coordinating and supervising alumni and community service endeavors in the Burlington area. He served on the Hobey Baker Memorial Award selection committee and on the America Hockey Coaches Association (ACHA) awards committee while coaching the Catamounts.

"We are going to concentrate on becoming excellent in all phases of development under our watch," added DiGiulian. "Most importantly, anyone hoping to play in this program must strive to be great students and community members first, and that will in turn make us a special hockey program. We will respect each other, the values of Saint Michael's and the game of hockey, and will be leaders in the community, on and off the ice."

At Vermont, DiGiulian was instrumental in the recruitment of Torrey Mitchell and Patrick Sharp, both of whom have played at the highest professional level in the National Hockey League (NHL). Mitchell recently signed with the Minnesota Wild, while Sharp won the 2010 Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Since 1997, DiGiulian has been a coach, evaluator and presenter in the USA Hockey development system. He was selected to coach the 1999, 2000 and 2001 Rocky Mountain District Select-16 team while, in 2000, he assisted a gold-medal-winning U-17 select team during a tournament in the Czech Republic. DiGiulian has helped organize evaluation camps in Vermont for USA Hockey while evaluating and choosing players aged 14 to 17 for USA Hockey Select Festivals.

DiGiulian coached in the Junior A ranks prior to gaining college experience, most recently as the associate head coach and assistant general manager with the Butte (Montana) Fightin' Irish of the American Frontier Hockey League (AFHL) in 1996-97, when the Fightin' Irish advanced to the league finals. In 1995-96, he was an assistant for the AFHL's Vail (Colo.) Avalanche, who owned the league's best record, at 40-6-3.

DiGiulian previously played professionally in 1993-94 with the Louisville Icehawks of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) and the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League (CHL), as well as coaching and training with the Vancouver-based Furokawa Hockey Club of Japan in 1994-95.

A 1993 graduate of Hamilton (N.Y.) College, DiGiulian earned a degree in history while also playing for the Continentals. Beyond his coaching and playing careers, DiGiulian has become an on-air ice hockey analyst, appearing on radio station WVMT for University of Vermont broadcasts since 2006 and on ESPNU for select Division I contests since 2007.

The Edmundite Catholic Liberal Arts College