Come 2013, Laurentian will once again be among Canadian universities boasting a varsity hockey program.
Last week, the school took the first steps in the reintroduction of the hockey program, announcing the head coaches for both the men’s and women’s teams.
A familiar face will be at the helm of the men’s team. Craig Duncanson was head coach of the Voyageurs from 1997 to 1999, at which time the program folded.
Duncanson was a first-round draft pick in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft, and went on to play five seasons with the Los Angeles Kings. Duncanson later played with the Winnipeg Jets, and the New York Rangers, along with stints in the AHL and the IHL over the course of his 12-year professional career.
He also has a long résumé of coaching and development assignments. Most recently, he has served as head coach of the OHL’s U-16 Development Program, associate coach of the Sudbury Wolves Minor Midgets, and an evaluator in the Hockey Canada U-17 Program.
“I’m honoured to be coming back to Laurentian for the return of varsity hockey in this community,” Duncanson said. “This is a proud hockey town, and Laurentian’s Voyageurs are going to take their rightful place in the game.
“Building a team from the ground up is a dream job for me, and there’s no question that Laurentian should be a powerhouse in the CIS.”
Over the course of the next year, Duncanson said the focus will be on recruiting.
As for the type of players he’s seeking out?
“Smart ones,” he said with a laugh. “We’re looking for student-athletes. There’s a lot of young men out there who are serious about the rest of their lives and making sure they find some direction both inside and outside the game.
“We’re going to build leaders and we’re going to use the ice as part of that process,” he added.
Next school year will be Laurentian’s first with a varsity women’s hockey team and Stacey Colarossi has been tasked with making an impact with that debut.
Colarossi joins the Voyageurs from York University, where she has been the lead associate coach of the women’s Lions hockey team for nine seasons. She also served as assistant coach for Team Ontario and for the Canadian women’s team at the FISU World event in 2011.
Colarossi, a Georgetown native, played her junior hockey in Brampton and is highly regarded in the elite hockey community.
“The talent that’s out there in women’s hockey, both locally, as well as across the country, is phenomenal, and I’m thrilled about the prospect of building a team from the ground up,” Colarossi said.
“I’m confident that we can be competitive from the outset, and I’m anxious to get on the ice and prove it.”
Colarossi described the kind of team she’s going to put on the ice next season as “physical and fast.”
“I want a team that’s willing to go into the dirty areas — willing to get to the front of the net, willing to outwork someone, to put their work boots on and come to play every day and put something entertaining on the ice,” she said.
Colarossi said her team has the opportunity to bring more than CIS women’s hockey to Sudbury.
“I think there’s a lot of young girls in the community that are looking for a team to look up to,” she said. “I want to have that outreach and have my team involved in the community ... and not just necessarily hockey. There’s other sports out there where these girls can be mentors.”
Laurentian athletics director Peter Hellstrom said the reintroduction of hockey at the school has “been a long time coming.”
“We’re happy about where we’re going,” he said. “This is an exciting time. This is an opportunity for kids growing up in Sudbury to have a place to play in Northern Ontario.
“We’re going to add 50 to 60 new kids to our campus ... and we’re going to start winning right away.”
Hellstrom said the addition of varsity hockey will bode well for the school in general, making it a more competitive post-secondary choice for potential student.
“In the OUA, there’s three market-driven sports — basketball, football and hockey. This puts Laurentian in the loop in two out of three of those sports, which I think is key.
“We couldn’t be happier with the two coaches we’ve selected, and we have very high hopes for the Voyageurs’ hockey prospects in 2013 and beyond,” he added.