Bob Prier was forced out at Princeton University after just three years at the ECAC Hockey institution last week. The attention now turns to finding a capable replacement to bring the Tigers hockey program back to respectability.
There will be many names bandied about, some with more likelihood than others, but there is no shortage of talented hockey minds that would love an opportunity to coach at a school in a conference that boasts the last two NCAA National Champions.
Hiring from within
Assistant coaches Scott Garrow and Greg Gardner have been retained for the time being and will likely throw their hats into the ring to become the next head coach at Princeton.
Garrow, a Western Michigan alum, has 20 years of experience as an assistant coach in college hockey. A Goderich, Ontario native, Garrow played center for the Broncos before getting his coaching feet wet in Kalamazoo as a graduate assistant. He spent 12 years at Cornell, sandwiched around another stint at WMU for four seasons.
Garrow has been at Princeton since Prier took over to start the 2011-12 season. Gardner, who also came to Princeton to join Prier in 2011, is a former standout goaltender at Niagara University. He led the Purple Eagles to the NCAA Tournament, including an opening round upset of New Hampshire, in 2000 in his senior season.
Gardner is a terrific and motivated recruiter who would bring life to the Tigers program. He is also noted for having a terrific understanding of the x's and o's of the game.
Former Tigers defenseman
Darren Yopyk, a 2000 graduate of Princeton where he starred as a blue liner, went on to be an assistant coach at both UMass and Merrimack before heading back home to be the head coach and general manager of the Westside Warriors in the BCHL.
Yopyk is a terrific recruiter who helped Mark Dennehy bring in some under-the-radar talent from western Canada. He most recently served as an NHL Scout for the Minnesota Wild. He has thrown his name in the ring for previous head coaching gigs in college hockey.
Former Tigers assistant
This is a long shot with about zero chance of happening, but it'd be shocking if Princeton didn't reach out to Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy. A former assistant at Princeton and UMass under Donald 'Toot' Cahoon, Dennehy has brought unprecedented success to North Andover, including a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2011.
Dennehy is a native of Dorchester, Mass. and played high school and college hockey at BC High and Boston College, respectively. He and his family would likely not want to lift up and move to New Jersey and he is under contract at Merrimack until 2019.
However, incoming Princeton AD Mollie Marcoux would be foolish to not do her due diligence with Dennehy.
Assistant coaches with ECAC Hockey connections
Providence assistant Ben Barr applied for the Lake Superior opening. A graduate of RPI and a former assistant at Union, the Faribault, Minn. native has plenty of experience in ECAC Hockey. He is considered one of the young up-and-coming assistants in the game and has learned from arguably the best young head coach in the business in Nate Leaman.
Union assistant Joe Dumais, a Quinnipiac graduate, also is a name to consider. He joined Rick Bennett's staff in 2011 after three seasons as an assistant at Connecticut. In his three seasons as Bennett's righthand man, Union has advanced to three NCAA Tournaments, two Frozen Fours and won the 2014 NCAA National Championship.
Bill Riga has spent the past 11 seasons in ECAC Hockey as an assistant at Union and now Quinnipiac. Prior to that he was the Director of Recruitment and an assistant coach for Pete Masters with the Junior Bruins in the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL).
A tremendous recruiter, Riga would spark new life into the Princeton program. He has experience at two ECAC schools and was a former player at UMass Lowell.
There will undoubtedly be other names thrown into the fray, but this is just a quick look into who might be considered or who should be considered for the third coaching vacancy of the summer in the NCAA hockey. The above mentioned names have not necessarily shown any interest in the position.