JULY 2005
New Coaching Staff to Head Tennessee’s 40th Season

By Brandon Hudson

After an exhaustive search that has taken the better part of a year, Tennessee officials recently completed their coaching search with the announcement of Steven Durrigan as the new Head Coach for the Ice Vols. Coach Durrigan has been involved in hockey for over 40 years. He began playing hockey at the age of 8 in his hometown of Brockton, Massachusetts in youth leagues as well as throughout high school. He played collegiate hockey at Massasoit CC and UMass-Boston, and later took the ice for the Norton Eagles in the Massachusetts Senior League. After his playing days, Durrigan coached youth hockey in the Brockton area, including various levels with the Taunton Brewins program and the Apponequet Lakers high school prep team in Lakeville, MA. Aside from coaching, Durrigan is also a certified USA Hockey referee, calling games in New England and Tennessee for over 10 years. Coach Durrigan is employed as a Procurement Agent for Advatech Engineering in Chattanooga, and resides in Collegedale, TN with his wife Kathy, and children Sean (19) and Kaileen (16).

Also joining the program are Assistant Coaches Aaron Barnes and Mike Lowrey. Barnes is the former Director of Hockey Operations for the IceArium. He has over 20 years experience in playing, coaching, refereeing, and as an administrator for hockey. Lowrey has been involved in hockey for over 35 years as a player and coach, and is also a USA Hockey certified referee. Lowrey played Junior Hockey in the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association and is the grandson of former Michigan Head Coach Eddie Lowrey.

The coaching staff is committed to returning Tennessee Hockey back to its heyday in the mid 90’s, and believes the current group of players are just the ones needed to do that. “They really are a great group of guys”, said Barnes. “Last year, they accomplished a lot under tough circumstances, and just needed some leadership to do some great things.” This staff should provide the much-needed leadership, as they have a combined 95 years in the game, and bring a no-nonsense attitude to the bench. “You have to have discipline at this level, and there will be discipline”, said Durrigan. “This team will represent the University of Tennessee well.”

The program’s past problems with behavior seem to have been resolved. Only five players remain from the infamous 2003 team, with the other players either graduating, transferring, or having been jettisoned from the roster after two years of hard-work on the recruiting trail by team officials. In the past two years, Tennessee has brought in over 25 new players, with the largest class yet this season. After over 80 contacts from freshmen-to-be, 20 committed to Tennessee, and 10 have already received acceptance letters.

The coaching additions also coincide with a change in leadership at UT RecSports to a much more hockey-friendly staff. “The past few meetings have been very positive”, said team GM Brandon Hudson, who coached the team last season on an interim basis and now moves back to being solely an administrator. “They are very pleased with the way things have been progressing with the team. In fact, everything since the end of the season has been positive for Tennessee Hockey”. The team’s — and the school’s — main focus now is fund-raising in preparation for the season. UT normally furnishes $4,000 of the $40,000 team budget, with the rest being raised through sponsorships, ticket sales, and player dues. The Ice Vols’ 40th Anniversary season begins in Nashville September 24th, against Georgia Tech.





 
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