The University of Maine announced on Wednesday that UMass associate head coach Ben Barr has become the fifth head men’s hockey coach in the school’s history. Barr takes over in the Maine after the sudden, tragic death of head coach Red Gendron earlier this spring.
Barr has only served as an assistant at the college level, but the resume he has built as perhaps the top recruiter in college hockey makes it a bit surprising that it has taken him this long to get an NCAA head coaching job.
He began his career as an assistant coach at Union College from 2008 to 2012, recruiting much of the team, including Shayne Gostisbehere, that would go on to win the 2013 national championship.
His next stop was following Nate Leaman to Providence College from 2012 to 2014, again, recruiting the foundation of the team that would win a national championship in 2015.
From 2014 to 2016, he worked for Western Michigan under Andy Murray, his former coach at Shattuck-St. Mary’s,
After leaving Western Michigan, he took his most recent position as associate head coach on Greg Carvel’s staff at UMass, playing a significant role in the incredible turnaround of that program, which culminated in winning this year’s national title.
Barr’s ability to find talent and mold it into success at the collegiate level is undeniable. He’ll still face an uphill task at Maine, where the Black Bears have struggled in recent years to keep up with the rest of Hockey East after the emergence of programs like UMass, UMass Lowell, Providence, and Northeastern, alongside traditional powers like Boston College and Boston University. But Barr has a resume full of quick turnarounds at schools with far less history and prestige than Maine, and if he is able to replicate that success, he could return the Black Bears to being a national power.