When Rich Gordon resigned as coach of the Columbus Icemen in April, he wasn’t sure where hockey would take him next.
As it turns out, Gordon won’t have to move from his hometown. He was hired last week as coach of Indiana University’s D3 club hockey team.
“This opportunity came up out of nowhere, and it was something I was definitely interested in, and it was worth pursuing,” Gordon said.
Gordon, who works for Cummins, plans to remain in Columbus. The IU team’s tryouts and first month of practice in September will be at the Hamilton Center Ice Arena since the Frank Southern Ice Arena in Bloomington doesn’t open until October.
“I think coach Gordon will bring a lot to our program,” IU hockey president Cody Reiff said. “He’s shown in the past that he knows how to bring a group together and make them a winning team, and I think he’ll be able to do that here next season.”
IU has two club hockey teams — a D1 squad and the D3 team. Time demands are much less on the D3 squad, which practices only twice a week.
“There’s not necessarily that much difference in talent,” Gordon said. “It’s how much time they want to invest in the sport. The D1 team will practice more, and the D3 team will practice a little less. It’s a nice opportunity for kids who still want to play competitive hockey and still focus on the school part and education part.”
Gordon played at IU from 1994-96 when the school had only one club team.
The Hoosiers’ D3 squad recently joined Purdue, Ball State and IPFW in forming the Indiana Collegiate Hockey Conference. The ICHC will be part of the North Division of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, which governs all club teams.
“To be honest, I don’t know a ton about the roster,” Gordon said. “The key takeaway for me was that they did not perform to the level of their abilities over the last couple of years.
“I think some obvious goals are bringing these guys together as a team and bringing them to the level that they’re capable,” he said. “I think we should be able to contend for the new league title. I don’t think there’s any reason not to consider playing in the nationals. I think that’s something we should set our sights for.”
Gordon helped guide the Icemen to the nationals in Omaha, Nebraska, in April.
The team qualified after finishing as the runner-up in the Indiana State High School Hockey Association 5A championship.
The Icemen made four state tournament appearances in Gordon’s seven years at the helm, winning a title in 2008.
“We played at the highest level possible in the state,” Gordon said. “About the only thing we didn’t do was win that 5A championship against Culver. It would have been nice to win one against them. We had a lot of wins, a lot of good championships. It’s about all I could ask for.
“I was fortunate to have a lot of good coaches working with me, and a lot of good players on and off the ice,” he said. “They were good kids.”
Gordon, whose final record was 198-111-29, was the longest tenured coach in Icemen history.
“For me, it was time to move on from the Icemen, but I knew I wasn’t done coaching,” Gordon said.
“It was a matter of figuring out where I wanted to go, what opportunities out there. But these guys from IU contacted me out of the blue. It wasn’t even on my radar screen. It seemed like a good opportunity.”