University of Alaska Anchorage head hockey coach Dave Shyiak, a former assistant at Northern Michigan, announced Tuesday that Damon Whitten has been hired as an assistant coach.
A native of Brighton, Whitten comes to UAA after a two-year assistant stint at Wayne State University, and one year at his alma mater, Michigan State. At both schools he assisted with all facets of practices and games, with a specific focus on coaching the teams' forwards.
"Damon is a passionate coach who brings a tremendous work ethic," said Shyiak, who begins his second season at the Seawolf helm this fall. "His recruiting experience in Western Canada and the Midwest will help us identify future student-athletes for UAA. Damon has played in two Frozen Fours and won and ECHL championship, so he understands the process and demands in becoming a winning hockey team."
Whitten draws similar high praise from his former bosses as well.
"Damon has a bright coaching future ahead of him," said MSU head coach Rick Comley. "He has a great feel for the game and grasps how to relate to players. He is a very committed person who will be a terrific addition to the staff at UAA."
Wayne State head coach Bill Wilkinson added, "Damon is an intelligent young coach who analyzes the game very well. He's very personable and dedicated to his job. He will be an asset to the UAA program."
Whitten began his coaching career after two seasons playing in the East Coast Hockey League. He played the 2002-03 campaign with the Arkansas RiverBlades, scoring 39 points on 12 goals and 27 assists in 69 games. The previous season, he helped the Greenville Grrrowl to the league championship by recording 32 points in 64 regular-season games (9g, 21a), and five points in 15 playoff games.
A left wing for MSU from 1997-2001, Whitten appeared in 166 games, ending his collegiate career with 35-40-75 totals. Whitten's class left MSU as the winningest senior class in program history with a four-year record of 122-28-20, including trips to the Frozen Four in 1999 and 2001 and a NCAA quarterfinal appearance in 1998. His Spartan teams also won three CCHA regular-season titles (1998, 1999, 2001) and three CCHA playoff championships (1998, 2000, 2001).
As a senior, Whitten received the Blue Line President's Award as the top scholar-athlete in the senior class, and the Amo Bessone Award for athletic, scholastic and community participation. He was a two-time nominee for the Hockey Humanitarian Award and was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten At-Large honoree.
Whitten earned his bachelor's degree in communications from MSU in 2001, and his master's of science in kinesiology in 2005.
Photo by Matt Mackinder