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The Seeley Solution
Former Clarkson coach turns women's program around
Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey head coach Rick Seeley has been at the helm of his team since 2008-09. In five years with the program, Seeley has turned the team from a sub .500 squad to a conference contender. Oddly enough, however, this isn’t the first time he brought a team up from nothing in the ECAC.
Former head coach of Clarkson women’s ice hockey, Seeley was the first head coach of the Golden Knights when they established their program in 2002. In five seasons with Clarkson, Seeley coached his team to a 93-67-18 record, leading them to the ECAC playoffs four times.
“There’s always pressure when you’re starting from scratch,” Seeley said. “I had confidence in the formula. When you’re starting a program, there are so many firsts. In retrospect, it worked out fine.”
Seeley held many memorable moments with the Golden Knights during the initial years of the program. These included defeating St. Lawrence when they were No. 1 in the nation and undefeated, as well as knocking off Princeton en route to the ECAC semifinals in Seeley’s final year with the program.
Furthermore, Seeley also led Clarkson to a 24-9-5 record in 2007-08, finishing ninth in USCHO.com’s final poll of the year.
Yet, through the end of his Golden Knights career, Seeley visited Quinnipiac, and was amazed at the campus and the unique “family environment” the university had to offer.
“Obviously the school is gorgeous, and the facilities are phenomenal,” Seeley said. “But when I visited here, it was really about the people that made me want to make the move. To this day, it’s remained a strong reason why I love to be here.”
Seeley had a high amount of weight on his shoulders coming into the seven-year-old program in 2008. Previous head coaches Michael Barrett and Amanda Adams led the program to just a 47-165-21 record. Barrett’s final three years with Quinnipiac were its first in the ECAC, never winning more than 10 games in their initial years.
Immediately after Seeley took over, Quinnipiac finished with just three wins and 26 losses in his first year; one loss shy of its worst season in program history.
Yet, that didn’t stop Seeley from recruiting the now-seniors on the squad and pushing for top players. In his second year with the Bobcats, Seeley led Quinnipiac to its first winning season in program history, finishing 19-10-8, a 16-game improvement from his first season.
“Any time you have success, you have to surround yourself with great people,” Seeley said. “I had great coaches and great players coming in. We had Vigilanti leading the nation in goals-against and save percentage. We had Regan Boulton, taking over our power play as a freshman (defenseman). Both Eklund and Lyons chipped in some big goals that season.”
Meanwhile, the seniors in that season, Janine Duffy and Kallie Flor recorded 25 and 22-point seasons, respectively leading the Bobcats to a fourth place finish in 2009-10.
“Everything came together really well,” Seeley said. “I think it was a testament to how hard that team, that only won three games the year before, worked to create a culture here.”
Boulton, part of Seeley’s first recruiting class and now Quinnipiac captain, feels the team’s poise and skill has evolved as a result of Seeley’s coaching.
“He’s committed to us, and to winning,” Boulton said. “Nothing gets in his way of making us better. Everything he does is all about the team. Before, I don’t think the coach had that mindset.”
Looking forward, Boulton also believes that Seeley has transformed her into a more versatile two-way player, as she focused solely on improving her offensive play before Quinnipiac.
“He’s brought out the best in me in every single position,” Boulton said. “From my freshman year until now. He’s helped me grow from an offensive point, and a defensive point.”