Chris Donovan M'06, the only head coach in the varsity history of the Saint Michael's College women's ice hockey program, enters his 20th season at the helm of the Purple Knights in 2019-20. Donovan heads into his 29th year of coaching both men and women.
The Purple and Gold started 3-3 in 2018-19 en route to its highest win total in 11 seasons, including a 5-2 victory over eventual New England Women's Hockey Alliance (NEWHA) Tournament runner-up Franklin Pierce University. Saint Michael's tied Division I Sacred Heart University, 1-1, in mid-January before downing Post University, 5-1, in the opening round of the NEWHA Tournament, advancing to a semifinal against eventual champion Saint Anselm College. The Purple Knights set a school record for longest shutout streak during the season while tying a mark for shutouts.
The 2017-18 Purple Knights opened the year with back-to-back wins, while their biggest victory of the year was a 1-0 upset of Division I Sacred Heart University on Jan. 12. In the opening round of the NEWHA Tournament, Saint Michael's knotted the game with three minutes to go before falling at Franklin Pierce University, 2-1. The Purple and Gold suffered seven losses by two goals or less, playing 20 of their 27 games in the new NCAA Division I/II NEWHA.
Saint Michael's put together a 3-1 run toward the end of January in 2017-18 that included scoring the final five goals in a 5-2 win over Castleton University and breaking out for a six-goal third period during an 8-2 victory against Nichols College. Between Jan. 20 and Feb. 17, the Purple Knights went 4-5 while averaging 3.1 goals, with two losses coming by 3-2 margins. In all, 10 setbacks during the season were by two goals or fewer.
A 3-2-1 stretch toward the end of the 2015-16 season began with the Purple Knights' school-record-tying third shutout of the year and concluded with the fifth-seeded Purple and Gold's 5-2 upset victory over No. 4 Sacred Heart University, a Division I institution, in the first round of the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) Open Tournament. That triumph was the first win-and-advance postseason victory in program annals. Saint Michael's recorded its highest goal (45), assist (62) and point (107) totals in five years, and its best win figure in eight winters.
The Purple Knights counted among their highlights in 2014-15 a 1-1 tie with Division I College of the Holy Cross and a 3-2 victory over eventual Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) East Tournament runner-up Castleton University. Donovan's charges set a school record for goals-against average (2.95), matched the second-lowest save percentage in program annals, and recorded their highest win, goal, assist and point totals since 2010-11. The Purple Knights matched their best ECAC East win total since 2007-08. Nine of their setbacks came by two goals or fewer.
During the winter of 2013-14, Saint Michael's yielded two goals or fewer on 10 occasions, while 11 losses came by two goals or less. During the campaign, the Purple and Gold picked up its first win ever over New England College en route to its best ECAC East finish in three years. The season ended with the Purple Knights tying Sacred Heart University during the ECAC Open Tournament third-place game.
In 2012-13, Saint Michael's turned in one of its best defensive seasons, yielding three goals or fewer 15 times en route to posting a school record for save percentage (.917) and a then-school-record 3.41 GAA. Capping the success was a momentous 2-1 victory on Feb. 16 over Manhattanville College, which was receiving national votes and had defeated national power Norwich University the night before.
The squad was beset by injuries in 2011-12, eventually losing 11 contests by three goals or fewer, including six by one or less. The Purple Knights advanced to the Saint Michael's Holiday Classic title game, coming within 3-1 of Sacred Heart University during a setback. In 2010-11, Donovan helped lead Saint Michael's to the first postseason victory in program history, as the Purple Knights defeated Sacred Heart University, 9-2, in the ECAC Open Tournament.
In 2009-10, Donovan's squad won the Saint Michael's Holiday Classic for the first time in program history, as the Purple Knights defeated Colby College and Plymouth State University to claim the title. The victory over the Mules was the Purple and Gold's first ever against a New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) institution. In 2008-09, Donovan's team won six games, including four in the ECAC East, after notching eight victories the prior campaign, as each of the Purple Knights' wins during 2007-08 was in conference. Saint Michael's finished just below .500 in the ECAC East, going 8-10-1 behind the first victories in program history versus the University of Massachusetts at Boston, Norwich University and the University of Southern Maine. After playing an abbreviated six-game varsity schedule during 2000-01, their first season of varsity play, the Purple Knights earned their first win against a varsity squad on Jan. 4, 2002, blanking Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 4-0.
Donovan has an extensive hockey background, including evaluating for USA Hockey's National Player Development Camp tryout for more than a decade, and coaching at a regional player development camp. He was a member of the coaching staff for camps at Cornell University and Phillips Exeter Academy, and on-ice director of the staff as a member of the Breakaway Hockey Camp for Girls. Donovan, who has his USA Hockey Level 4 coaching certification, was previously the coaching director for the Vermont Northern Lights women's program. He served as an assistant coach for the Saint Michael's men from 1991-92 to 1993-94.
Donovan played for Archbishop Williams High School in Braintree, Mass., and went on to play at Norwich University from 1969-70 to 1972-73, serving as captain of the Cadets in his senior year. A 1973 graduate of Norwich, Donovan holds a bachelor's degree in business administration with a minor in secondary education, and earned his master's degree in administration from Saint Michael's in May of 2006. He resides in Hardwick, Vt.
|2009-10||3-20-2||1-17-1||SMC Holiday Classic Champion|
|2010-11||6-19-2||4-12-2||First Postseason Win in Program History|
|2011-12||3-22-1||2-15-1||SMC Holiday Classic Finalist|
|2013-14||3-19-4||2-12-2||SMC Holiday Classic Champion|
|2015-16||6-19-2||3-13-1||First Postseason Advancement in Program History|