Who's Next? The Bulldog

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 discussed UMass Amherst's Ben Barr. Now we'll discuss Brett Larson, a Duluth, MN native and assistant at the University of Minnesota - Duluth.

At first glance, Larson feels like a clone of several of the other candidates we've profiled such as Dane Jackson, Keith Fisher and Seth Appert. He definitely fits the "few ties to the UP, but has a good resume and will be looking for head coaching experience" mold. Coming from Duluth however, Larson will have a better understanding of the north country and the Keweenaw compared to other candidates in similar positions. Larson both played against and coached against MTU as recently as October 2016.

Details

Age: 44

College: Minnesota-Duluth

Birthplace: Duluth, MN

Current Position: Assistant Coach, Minnesota-Duluth

Pedigree

As a Duluth native and Bulldog defenseman, Larson has spent nearly his whole career tied to the University of Minnesota - Duluth. In four years playing on the blue line for the Bulldogs, he accumulated 67 points (24G, 43A) and wore the Captain's "C" his senior year. Larson spent 12 years playing pro hockey in the minor leagues and sunk his teeth into coaching as a player-coach with the San Diego Gulls of the WCHL. Larson joined the UMD staff in 2008, returning to college hockey and his hometown in doing so. Larson spent three seasons on the staff as an assistant at UMD.

Brett Larson celebrating UMD's National Championship (PHOTO CREDIT: UMD Athletics)

Brett Larson celebrating UMD's National Championship (PHOTO CREDIT: UMD Athletics)

After winning the 2011 NCAA National Championship at UMD, Larson left to become head coach of the USHL's Sioux City Musketeers and associate head coach the Ohio State Buckeyes. In Columbus, Larson joined his former UMD colleague and assistant coach Steve Rohlik, who had taken over as head coach of the Buckeyes. Larson returned to UMD in 2015 as an assistant head coach. the Bulldogs are 47-23-12 since Larson returned to Duluth and won the 2017 NCHC tournament title before losing in the NCAA National Championship game.

Why

Brett Larson has a pedigree similar to many of the other assistant coaches around the NCAA, and he'll be looking to add NCAA head coaching experience to his resume as well. Fresh off an NCAA National Championship Title game appearance, his stock is currently very high. Larson was behind the bench for both of UMD's recent NCAA tournament appearances, their firsts since 1985. He also has experience head coaching and acting as a GM at the USHL level, which we know from the MTU job posting that Athletic Director Suzanne Sanregret is looking for. Some of the players Larson coached/recruited at UMD include:

  • Jack Connolly (Hobey Baker Winner)
  • Justin Faulk
  • Justin Fontaine
  • Alex Iafallo

Being a Duluth native, Larson is also more likely to understand and look for a life in the UP compared to many of the other NCAA assistant coaches who we have profiled. He has been to Houghton numerous times and faced MTU at the beginning of the 2016-2017 season. While Larson has been associated with UMD most of his career, he has taken several other coaching positions outside of the Bulldog organization. Current UMD head coach Scott Sandelin has been coaching the Bulldogs since the 2000 season, and his only NCAA National Championship appearances have been with Larson as his assistant. At the age of 52, it is unlikely that Sandelin will be looking to retire in the next few years and with recent NCAA National Championship appearances it is unlikely Sandelin will be let go, so Larson will probably need to leave Duluth if he wants to pursue a head coaching position any time soon. 

Why Not

Like many other NCAA assistant coaches we have highlighted, Larson has very strong ties to the university he is currently employed with. Larson grew up near, played for and has twice coached at UMD . While it may be a few years before Sandelin retires, MTU may be looking to avoid borrowing another school's rising star again.  

Review

At first glance, Larson feels like a clone of several of the other NCAA assistant head coach candidates we've profiled, however he has some upsides which the others do not. He is a top assistant at a top program, and has familiarity with the UP and Tech from playing them over the years. While Larson has cultivated very strong ties to the UMD Bulldogs over the years, there is reason to believe he can and will leave Duluth for an opportunity to head coach at the NCAA level. 

Featured image courtesy of UMD Athletics.