College hockey: Northern Michigan hires Grant Potulny as next coach
MARQUETTE, Mich. — Grant Potulny was announced as the third head coach in Northern Michigan hockey history Tuesday morning.
Potulny spent the past eight seasons as an assistant coach at Minnesota, where he helped the Golden Gophers capture six regular-season conference titles and qualify for five NCAA tournaments.
"Grant impressed everyone throughout the interview process and truly earned this opportunity," said Director of Athletics Forrest Karr. "He is a tremendous leader committed to excellence and has achieved success at each level as a player and as a coach. Grant has had quality mentors throughout his career, and it shows in his attention to detail and plan for Northern Michigan hockey. This is Grant's time to lead and continue the program's rich history."
A two-time NCAA and WCHA tournament champion during his playing career at Minnesota, Potulny has also experienced success on the international stage. In 2013 and 2017, he helped the United States win the IIHF World Junior Championships as an assistant coach.
"My family and I are very excited to be joining the Northern Michigan community," Potulny said. "The hockey team has been a great source of pride for alumni, fans and students for the past 41 years. This is a wonderful opportunity, and I look forward to adding to the tradition and success of Wildcat hockey."
At Minnesota, Potulny worked primarily with the forwards and power-play units and was heavily involved in recruiting. Under his guidance, the Gophers were one of the nation's top offensive teams.
In 2012-13, Minnesota led the Division I ranks with an average of 3.48 goals per game. Each of the past five seasons, the Gophers averaged more than three goals per game and never finished lower than 11th in the nation in this statistical category. They also excelled on the man advantage during that stretch, finishing first in the NCAA in power-play percentage in both 2012-13 (.246) and 2014-15 (.280).
Minnesota reached the NCAA Frozen Four in 2012 and 2014. The Gophers fell in the 2012 semifinals to eventual champion Boston College and in the 2014 finals to Union College.
Potulny recruited and coached 11 skaters who went on to play in the National Hockey League: Mark Alt, Nick Bjugstad, Hudson Fasching, Erik Haula, Seth Helgeson, Nick Leddy, Kyle Rau, Mike Reilly, Nate Schmidt, Jordan Schroeder and Brady Skjei. Under his watch, seven players also garnered All-American accolades.
Potulny played at Minnesota from 2000-04, where he earned a bachelor's degree in Sport Management and was the team's only three-year captain since 1947. As an assistant captain in 2002, he netted the game-winning goal in Minnesota's 4-3 overtime victory over Maine in the national championship game. He then captained the Gophers to a second national title the following campaign.
Potulny, who finished his collegiate career with 116 points (68 goals, 48 assists) in 146 career games, went on to play five seasons at the professional level. From 2004-07, he skated for the Ottawa Senator's American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, New York. He also spent time with the AHL's Hershey Bears (2007-08), Springfield Falcons (2007-08), San Antonio Rampage (2008-09) and Norfolk Admirals (2008-09).
A native of Grand Forks, North Dakota, Potulny was selected by the Ottawa Senators 157th overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. During his time at Red River High School, he was a three-time North Dakota state champion. He spent two seasons with the United States Hockey League's Lincoln Stars and was named the 1999-00 Anderson Cup champion team's most valuable player.