For the second straight season, University of Minnesota Duluth men’s and women’s hockey coaches traded their maroon and gold for red, white and blue at international tournaments as the calendar flipped from 2019 to 2020.
Both UMD men’s coach Scott Sandelin and women’s coach Maura Crowell continued their service to Team USA leading the Men’s National Junior Team and the Under-18 Women's National Team, respectively, at world championships in eastern Europe.
Crowell, who hails from Mansfield, Massachusetts, led the U18 women to a gold medal in this year’s world championship after finishing second in her first turn as head coach last year. The U.S. claimed the gold in a 2-1 overtime victory over Canada in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Jan. 2.
She also served as the associate head coach in 2018 and an assistant coach in 2016, both of which were gold medal results for the U.S.
It’s been a decade-plus long climb through the ranks for Crowell, who began her involvement with Team USA as an evaluator at various camps around the country.
“From there, I became involved in district camps as both an on-ice coach and evaluator, and then I started working national development camps about 12 years ago,” she said. “It’s been rewarding to work my way up to the U18 head coaching position.”
Sandelin, a native of Hibbing, Minnesota — approximately 90 minutes northwest of Duluth — has stood behind the bench for the junior national squad four times, including twice as head coach. This year’s squad fell short of expectations, as a four-year medal streak ended in a 1-0 quarterfinal loss to Finland on Jan. 2 in Trinec, Czech Republic. However, the defeat far from diminished the pride Sandelin feels in leading the U.S. on the world stage.
“It means a lot,” he said. “It is a huge honor to represent your country.”
Sandelin has a long history with Team USA. His experience dates back to 1982, when he first skated in the World Junior Championship. He joins Phil Housley as the only two U.S. head coaching members to have both played and coached at the World Junior Championship.
Their respective tournaments now at an end, both coaches are back in Duluth, where they are in the midst of their collegiate seasons. Sandelin has been with UMD since 2000, while Crowell is in her fifth season of coaching the Bulldogs.
Crowell — a 2002 graduate of Colgate, where she played four years with the Raiders — said that her experience with Team USA has positively impacted her work at the collegiate level.
“This experience undoubtedly makes me a better coach,” she said. “My job is not only to identify the best U18 players in the country, but also to bring out their best on and off the ice to help them achieve their dream of winning a gold medal at the World Championships.”
While Sandelin and Crowell coached their teams just a few hours away from one another in Eastern Europe, their offices are within the same building at Amsoil Arena in Duluth. Crowell said that the two coaches do converse about their experiences both at the college and national level.
“Coach Sandelin and I have a good relationship at UMD and we are very proud to serve as head coaches of our national team staffs this year,” she said. “We are all part of one family at USA Hockey and so any win for Team USA is a win for all of us.”
In addition to sharing notes with his fellow Bulldog coach, Sandelin also picks the brains of several of his coaching counterparts — also with USA Hockey experience — that he has gotten to know during his time playing and coaching in the upper Midwest. Among those he mentioned were Minnesota State’s Mike Hastings, Bob Motzko of the University of Minnesota, as well as former North Dakota and Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean Blais.
“I’ve been fortunate to be part of [coaching the junior national team] four times and have worked with some really good people,” he said. “Everybody can learn from different situations and different groups.”
Crowell cherishes the opportunity and experience that leading a national team offers.
“I am fortunate to work with great people on our staff, from coaches to doctors, who are 100 percent committed to our players and strive to make this experience the best it can possibly be for our athletes,” she said. “As coaches, we get to talk hockey a lot and this is something that I love to do. Learning from our players and our staff is something that is extremely valuable to me as a person and coach.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.