The Tech Hockey Guide staff brainstormed potential candidates and settled on our top picks. Through the next few weeks we will break down potential candidates while discussing pedigree as a player and coach as well as likelihood of being Coach Pearson’s replacement. This morning we covered Dane Jackson. This afternoon, we turn to another assistant coach with no connection to Michigan Tech: Penn State Assistant Coach, Keith Fisher.
Fisher has nearly two decades of coaching experience at the amateur level, beginning as a grad assistant at St. Cloud State from 1998-2000. He was an assistant coach in the USHL from 2000-2005 with both Omaha and River City before being hired by Guy Gadowsky to be a part of his staff at Princeton University. Fisher has been an assistant with Gadowsky ever since, following him to Penn State in the Fall of 2011 where he still works. Fisher is known to be the lead recruiter on the staff and is considered to be a huge reason for why PSU has been able to recruit strong NCAA talent even as a young program.
Age: Under 40
College: St Cloud State
Birthplace: Zim, Minnesota
Current Position: Assistant Coach, Penn State
Coach Fisher is one of the best recruiting assistant coaches in the nation, helping the young Nittany Lions program find some elite talent from the onset. He is a key piece of a recruiting puzzle that has already seen two players, Casey Bailey and Vince Pedrie, have the talent to leave school early for the professional ranks. He was part of both Princeton NCAA tournament appearances this century as well as Penn State’s first ever tournament appearance this past season.
His contributions to the exponential growth of has not gone unnoticed, especially by Guy Gadowsky. In an interview with the Daily Collegian—Penn State's student newspaper—in March, he acknowledged that other programs would likely show interest in his staff. Fisher’s previous employer also noted his achievements when he interviewed for the Head Coach opening at Princeton in 2014, although Ron Fogarty ultimately ended up with the job.
While Fisher has no head coach experience, he appears to be quite qualified for an opportunity to do so. I had a conversation with a someone who has intimate knowledge of the program, and I heard absolutely nothing but glowing recommendations about Fisher as both a person and a coach.
Michigan Tech is looking to find themselves again now that their chosen son Mel Pearson has moved on. Coach Fisher has unique experience with recruiting great talent to a school that can be a difficult sell to recruits. He has proven to be an elite recruiter and, since he has never coached outside the amateur level, is unlikely to leave for a professional job if he finds success. The first thing I heard about him is he has “a tremendous work ethic and passion for finding talented students and hockey players.”
Of the many candidates that will be discussed during this process, Fisher is one of the few who has never been a Head Coach at any level. It is not hard to wonder if Michigan Tech will try to find someone who has success at the highest level of leadership. Further, Fisher has no ties to the U.P. and it may be a hard sell for either party to get Fisher to Houghton. There are not a lot of reasons that this would be a natural fit, outside of the simple fact that Fisher is definitely qualified and ready to be a Head Coach and MTU has that opening. Also worth noting is that Fisher has no playing experience at even the NCAA level, which could cause decision-makers to be wary (although in an age of analytics, that is less of an impediment for sports leadership positions).
Coach Fisher is probably the least likely candidate in our entire series to get Mel Pearson’s old job. It will be hard to convince boosters and decision makers to go entirely outside the MTU circle if it is not for a coach with an overwhelming resume. If nothing else, remember the name because there is a good chance that he is in the middle of a bench for some program at some point in the next decade.
Feature image courtesy of @hweikelphoto