Finlandia University has announced that John McCabe has accepted the position of head men's ice hockey coach beginning in the 2010-11 academic year.
McCabe takes over the Finlandia Lions men's hockey program after completing his sixth season as an assistant men's hockey coach at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, which is a NCAA Division I school. McCabe helped lead the UAH Chargers to two College Hockey America tournament titles (losing a third in the championship game to Bemidji State in 2006) and two NCAA regional semifinal appearances, most recently the 2010 Midwest Regional in Fort Wayne, Ind.
At Huntsville, McCabe worked under Danton Cole, former Michigan State All-American and Stanley Cup winner the New Jersey Devils.
"John brings with him all of the hockey knowledge that he's acquired under Coach Cole and his former coaches to help create at Finlandia the optimal environment to breed success in the college ranks," said FU athletic director Chris Salani.
Salani explained the number one priority in Finlandia's search for a men's hockey coach was to identify the candidate with proven experience and success and a solid understanding of how a college program should be run.
"The hockey environment in the college setting is much different than in the junior ranks," Salani notes. "To achieve success and elevate Finlandia hockey to D-III national prominence, which is our goal, it was critical that we find the person who is the right fit for our community and for our program. I believe we've found that person in John McCabe."
Salani is hoping to generate at Finlandia a similar atmosphere of excellence as recently demonstrated by the men's hockey program at Adrian College, also a member of NCAA Division III and the Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association.
"I believe in many ways Adrian's success can be credited to the hiring of a coach who understood and had the experience of the DI college game behind him," Salani explained. "In a lot of ways, I expect Coach McCabe to immediately set the Finlandia's men's hockey program in the right direction and compete for not only MCHA titles, but national titles."
In the previous four years, McCabe's primary responsibility for the UAH hockey program was that of head men's hockey recruiter.
"John's networks throughout North America and in Scandinavia, combined with his regular work in identifying high profile recruits, will also be a huge asset in establishing a quality and successful product on the ice for Finlandia," Salani said.
In his own hockey career, McCabe played for UAH from 1995-1998 during a period in which the Chargers program won two NCAA D-II national championships - the second in his senior year as captain of the team. Following, McCabe played seven seasons of minor professional hockey, most notably four seasons in the East Coast Hockey League with the Mobile Mysticks, the Greensboro Generals and the Toledo Storm.
Established in 1999, the Finlandia men's hockey program is a member of NCAA Division III and the MCHA. The team was coached on an interim basis by Salani in the 2009-10 season and by former head coaches Joe Burcar (2002-2009) and Scott Mikesch (1999-2001). The Lions won the Harris Cup in 2007.
McCabe relocates to Hancock with his wife, Carla, seven-month-old daughter Annslee, and step-daughter, eight-year-old Lillie.