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Monday, November 05, 2007

Culhane rewarded with extension

By Tom Morelli/WMU Beat Writer

Western Michigan University A.D. Kathy Beauregard announced last Friday that men’s hockey coach Jim Culhane signed a three year extension, which takes effect following the 2007-2008 season.

The new contract will earn Culhane about $105,000 per season, with the opportunity to make more if the Broncos can find their way into the CCHA semi-finals or receive a bid for the NCAA Frozen Four Tournament.

After taking over for head coach Bill Wilkinson on an interim basis in the spring of 1999, Culhane has stood behind the bench for nine seasons, compiling an overall record of 130-159-29. His biggest challenge though has been consistency, as he has accomplished a winning season only twice, going 20-13-6 in 2000-2001 and 19-15-4 the following season.

But while his players have had their share of highs and lows on the ice, Culhane continues to stress academics off of it. In the fall of 2006, the Broncos had their highest GPA under the regime at 3.18. Additionally, 18 players finished the 2006-2007 academic year with a 3.00 GPA or better. In nine of the past 10 semesters, Culhane’s players have held themselves to a high standard by maintaining a combined 3.00 GPA or better. Such academic success for the hockey team has allowed Culhane to graduate 41 of his seniors since 1998.

Nine players have earned pro tryouts during Culhane’s time behind the bench, including last season’s CCHA Rookie of the Year Mark Letetsu, who signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins last spring.

Culhane began his career with Western Michigan as a defenseman in 1983, earning a reputation around the CCHA for his tough and physical play. He capped his senior year in 1986-1987 with nine goals and 24 assists in 43 games, along with 163 penalty minutes.

After spending three seasons in the AHL with the Binghamton Whalers, Culhane played six games for the Hartford Whalers during the 1989-1990 season. He continued his career in the minor leagues before returning to Western Michigan as an assistant coach for the 1993-1994 season.

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