Moon Township, Pa. -– Robert Morris Director of Athletics Craig Coleman, M.D., announced the hiring of Paul Colontino as head women’s ice hockey coach on Monday.

Colontino, who served as associate head coach at Mercyhurst since 2006, has helped guide teams to the NCAA Tournament in each of the past five years, including earning two Frozen Four berths, and has over a decade of women’s hockey coaching experience at the Division I level.

“We are very excited to have Paul Colontino take the reins of our women's ice hockey program,” Coleman said. “Coach Colontino comes to us from one of the most successful programs in the nation and is the right coach to help our program move to the next level and beyond. Our student-athletes will be in great hands.”

In Colontino’s five seasons with Mercyhurst, the Lakers have posted an overall record of 148-25-9 (.838), advanced to the national championship game once, made two Frozen Four appearances, qualified for the NCAA Tournament five times, were ranked No. 1 nationally in each season and won five College Hockey America (CHA) tournament championships and five regular-season titles.

Immediately after Colontino returned to Mercyhurst as associate head coach, the Lakers went 32-2-3 in 2006-07, claiming the program record for victories, as they registered a nine-win improvement from the previous season and were ranked No. 1 nationally for 13 weeks. After a one-goal loss in the NCAA Tournament to the eventual national champions ended the Lakers’ 2007-08 season, the 2008-09 squad reached new heights. Entering the NCAA Tournament on a 15-game winning streak, Mercyhurst advanced to its first-ever Frozen Four with a victory over St. Lawrence and proceeded to top Minnesota in a thrilling semifinal contest to move into the national championship game against Wisconsin. The Lakers were ranked No. 1 for 23 weeks the following season, went 30-3-3 and advanced to the Frozen Four for the second straight season before succumbing in overtime to Cornell.

“I would like to thank Athletic Director Craig Coleman and the hiring committee for this outstanding opportunity,” Colontino said. “I am both honored and excited to join the Robert Morris community as its head women’s hockey coach.”

While Colontino had a hand in leading and assisting in all aspects of the Lakers’ program, he specifically managed the defensive corps and worked with the penalty killing units, areas that have thrived recently for Mercyhurst. Under Colontino, the Lakers ranked among the top 10 nationally in scoring defense in each of his five seasons while allowing two goals per game or fewer on four of those occasions. Mercyhurst has also ranked among the top four programs nationally in killing off opponents’ power plays in each of the last two seasons.

Colontino also served as the recruiting coordinator for the Lakers and was able to attract numerous top-tier talents to Mercyhurst. He helped recruit the 2009-10 Patty Kazmaier Award winner, Vicki Bendus, one of four Kazmaier Award finalists Mercyhurst has earned under Colontino. The Lakers have received 28 All-CHA selections, including 17 First Team honors, since Colontino rejoined the staff, and he has helped his Laker defensemen earn eight All-CHA First Team awards in the past five years alone with Mercyhurst’s Cassea Schols grabbing CHA Defenseman of the Year honors for 2010-11.

Colontino had numerous other responsibilities away from the ice for the Lakers including scheduling, monitoring academic affairs of student-athletes, preparing scouting reports of opponents, developing and conducting practices and organizing program fundraising events.

Prior to his most recent stretch at Mercyhurst, Colontino was an assistant coach with the women’s team at the University of North Dakota for four years. He helped launch the women’s program with the Fighting Sioux in 2002 and was part of the coaching staff the following season when North Dakota won 11 of its final 12 games to post a winning record in just its second season of existence. Some of Colontino’s responsibilities with North Dakota included training the Fighting Sioux defensive units, aiding with video analysis and recruiting prospective student-athletes along with organizing the staff’s recruiting efforts. He also developed, scheduled and organized an annual international hockey tournament at North Dakota. During his time on staff, the Fighting Sioux transitioned into the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) in their third season as a program and upset fourth-ranked Minnesota Duluth on the road in February 2006, the highest-ranked opponent the Sioux had defeated in program history to that point.

Colontino, who has also been an instructor at numerous hockey camps and clinics throughout the country, began his coaching career as an assistant with Mercyhurst in 2000. He planned and instructed the strength and conditioning efforts for the program, coordinated individual video sessions with student-athletes, helped oversee the program’s travel and equipment budgets and organized team community service efforts. In the second season of his first stint with Mercyhurst, the Lakers won a then school-record 24 games, including posting a perfect 8-0-0 mark in conference play.

Before moving to the coaching side, Colontino played for four years at Mercyhurst and earned multiple notable awards in the process. While serving as a team captain in his senior season, he was named both Mercyhurst Student-Athlete of the Year and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Co-Defensive Player of the Year while leading the Lakers to a then school-record tying 23 wins. Colontino, who was also an All-MAAC First Team selection, helped Mercyhurst to a winning record in each of his seasons on the ice with the Lakers.

Colontino earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Mercyhurst in anthropology/archaeology in 2000 and proceeded to earn a Master of Science degree from Mercyhurst in organizational leadership in 2002. He replaces former head coach Nate Handrahan, who resigned to accept a similar position at Ohio State.