Every weekday from May 23-June 7, we will be looking back at the "Dandy Dozen" moments from the historic 2015-16 WCHA season. Up first on our countdown is…
Moment 12: Trio of New Coaches Join WCHA
The 2015-16 season was a momentous one in the WCHA for many reasons, including the debut of three new head coaches: Maura Crowell at Minnesota Duluth, John Harrington at Minnesota State and Jenny Potter at Ohio State.
Crowell, who helped build Harvard into a national power during a five-year tenure as assistant coach, interim head coach and associate head coach, successfully navigated the nation's toughest schedule (by RPI) and eventually guided the Bulldogs back to the WCHA Final Face-Off in her first campaign. UMD, which played its first six games on the road and 12 of its first 16 contests against ranked opponents, posted consecutive victories against top-10 teams since 2013. After finishing with a 10-17-1-0 mark in league play, the Bulldogs (15-21-1 overall) upset third-seeded Bemidji State in the WCHA Quarterfinals, sweeping the host Beavers at the Sanford Center (5-1 and 2-1 in OT).
Following a distinguished, two-decade career on the bench for men's programs in Denver (assistant coach), St. Cloud State (associate head coach) and St. John's (head coach), along with a stint as a Colorado Avalanche scout, Harrington returned to the WCHA with Minnesota State. Featuring one of the league's youngest rosters (including 10 freshmen and 20 underclassmen), Harrington's Mavericks proved to be a team on the rise during a highly-competitive second half. After Nov. 28, Minnesota State played eventual national champion Minnesota to a one-goal loss, posted a 5-5 tie at No. 8 North Dakota, and had 13 of its final 19 games decided by two-or-fewer goals.
A two-time WCHA Player of the Year and twice an All-American during her collegiate career at Minnesota Duluth, four-time Olympic medalist Potter returned to the league for her first D-I coaching assignment. Under Potter's tutelage, freshman defenseman Lauren Boyle earned WCHA All-Rookie team honors. The entire Buckeyes team showed steady growth, posting a pair of wins over eventual Final Face-Off participant and nationally-ranked North Dakota, while ranking fourth in the league for scoring offense during WCHA play.