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. Yesterday featured goaltender alumni Cam Ellsworth, who was first coached in the U.P. by today’s profile, current assistant coach Joe Shawhan.
Talk to anyone in the U.P. about hockey and Joe Shawhan is a name that’s bound to come up. Growing up in Sault Ste. Marie, Shawhan played goaltender for the local high school team taking them to the state finals in 1979 where they lost to Trenton. From there he played at Lake Superior State for a few years and had tryout with Calgary. Shawhan, however, found his stride coaching and has slowing marched west across the U.P. before ending up in Houghton after the departure of Damon Whitten in 2014.
College: Lake Superior State
Birthplace: Sault Ste. Marie, MI
Current Position: Assistant Coach, Michigan Tech
Shawhan holds a 474-162-43 record as the head coach with the NAHL’s former Soo Indians over ten years. Not surprisingly, the Indians were known for solid goaltenders including current Vancouver Canuck Ryan Miller, and were an important developmental step for many other college bound players. After the Indians dissolved he became an assistant coach at LSSU in 2005 under Jim Roque for three seasons. Shawhan left the Soo in 2008 for Marquette where he was first a volunteer assistant, then Director of Hockey Operations, and finally an assistant coach in 2010. He would continue there under Walt Kyle until moving to Michigan Tech in 2014.
Shawhan’s familiarity with the current team would make for a smoother transition than someone on the outside. He’s already acquainted with the current players, incoming recruits, and knows the current systems. He’s got a strong understanding of the uniqueness of U.P. hockey culture, having been involved with it in one way or another since leaving high school in the early eighties. There no reason to believe that’s going to change anytime soon.
It’s been quite a few years since Shawhan was the head coach at a program and while he’s excelled as an assistant, there’s no certainty that success will come running the program. It’s also one of the safer, less high profile pick that could be made. And while the U.P focus is plus, it’s also a negative with less experience outside of it.
There’s no doubt that Shawhan has been a welcome addition to the bench at Tech and there is no reason to believe he’s not interested in moving up. He’s a solid candidate of the list of potential replacements and Tech Hockey Guide hopes to see him behind the bench in some capacity next fall. Whether that is in charge of the program or helping the new coach settle in, Shawhan has proved he belongs in Houghton.
Feature Image courtesy of Michigan Tech Athletics