Flanagan prepares to face former school St. Lawrence

first_img Published on February 4, 2014 at 2:11 am When head coach Paul Flanagan decided to begin a startup program at Syracuse, he left a program at St. Lawrence University that he’d built into a powerhouse.During Flanagan’s tenure, his teams reached five NCAA Frozen Fours during his nine seasons. His most memorable stretch was from 2003–07 where his teams tied a college hockey record with four consecutive Frozen Four appearances.But for Flanagan, he approached a point in his coaching career where it was time to embrace a new challenge.“It was a unique situation for me because I was in a place that was pretty dear to me,” he said. “It was a point in my life that both personally and professionally, this was a real good opportunity.“If I was going to do something new, this would be the time to do it.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFlanagan’s new squad will face his old program for the first time when Syracuse (14-11-2, 6-6-2 College Hockey America) welcomes St. Lawrence (9-14-3, 8-5-3) to the War Memorial on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Saints are now led by Chris Wells, who Flanagan coached as an assistant on the St. Lawrence men’s ice hockey team.When Flanagan was offered the opportunity to take over the St. Lawrence women’s team in 1999 after 11 years as an assistant for the men’s team, he was enticed with running a program that was fairly new to Division I hockey.“It was the right place at the right time. I had a young family,” Flanagan said. “I wouldn’t have to travel as much and quality of life would hopefully improve dramatically.”The success that ensued was an admirable story. He compiled an overall record of 230-83-24 with St. Lawrence, giving him the sixth-best winning percentage in the nation among active Division I coaches.For nine years, he built his alma mater to national prominence and became a renowned name in women’s ice hockey. Flanagan’s name resonated across the country, which prompted senior Jenesica Drinkwater to join the new program at Syracuse.“He’s awesome. He’s been a big name,” Drinkwater said. “He’s always communicated well with me. It’s been a great experience here.”His outlook on how to build the program at Syracuse did change compared to his time at St. Lawrence. Flanagan originally began his tenure at St. Lawrence with some Division III players, as the program was only two years old at the Division I level. Coming from a school with only 2,000 students, Flanagan was ready to join a more prominent athletic program at Syracuse.“I liked the idea of being around a bigger athletic department,” he said.Flanagan used the Syracuse name to branch out with recruiting. He sought out players along the Midwest and up north in Canada. The Orange currently has eight seniors on the roster — many of who believed that Flanagan would build a competitive program like he did at St. Lawrence.Senior captain Margot Scharfe left her hometown of Toronto to play for Syracuse. She liked how she would join a new hockey program that is under the roof of one of the premier brands in college athletics.“It’s a great way to come here and be a part of history,” Scharfe said. “It’s going to be crazy to see where this program is in 10 years. It’s been a privilege to be a part of it.”Since taking over in 2008, Flanagan is 85-97-16 at the helm in Syracuse. However, the Orange is coming off a program-best 20-15-1 finish last year that culminated in aCHA championship game loss, and sits at 14-11-2 this season.Drinkwater noted how Syracuse has improved since becoming a part of the new program four years ago.“It comes from Paul and our assistant coaches working hard everyday,” Drinkwater said. “With our new facilities being added on, it’s been great. It’s just going to continue building.”As Flanagan prepares to face his old team, he has developed a competitive program at Syracuse that continues challenging itself against quality opponents, and is competing for conference championships.In hindsight, he doesn’t regret the move one bit.“There’s no looking back,” Flanagan said. “We make those decisions, and it’s been great. It has been exceptional.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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