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College women’s hockey: Connolly resigns as Bulldogs assistant coach

Just four days before an exhibition to open the 2017-18 season, the Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey program announced the resignation of assistant coach Chris Connolly.

The Duluth native was about to enter his second season with the Bulldogs women’s hockey team. Connolly said Tuesday he resigned to take a sales position in the Twin Cities — where he and his family currently live — that will allow him to spend more time with his wife, Lindsay, and their daughter, Liv, who is nearly 2 years old.

Chris Connolly

“It was an opportunity trying to keep the best interests of my family in mind, first and foremost, and it’s going to allow me to spend more time with them, which is most important to me,” Connolly said. “It’s a great opportunity to do something different that I’m excited about.”

Connolly, 30, is a graduate of Duluth Marshall High School. He played four seasons at Boston University (2008-12), winning a national championship in 2009 and captaining the Terriers his junior and senior seasons. He went on to play four seasons of professional hockey in Europe before retiring and taking his first coaching job at UMD.

Connolly said it was “incredibly tough” to leave hockey after it played such a prominent part of his life.

“I’m extremely grateful to the Bulldogs and Bulldog family and what they provided me — the athletic department and coach (Maura) Crowell, all the players, coach (Laura) Bellamy as well,” Connolly said. “I’ve just learned a lot and grown a lot from it and I’m going to take a lot of what I learned into whatever is in the future for me and my family.”

Crowell said in the announcement she has a lot of respect for Connolly and appreciated all the work and effort he put in with the Bulldogs.

Connolly replaced Samantha Reber on UMD’s staff in 2016 when Reber left the Bulldogs after one season to become the head coach of the Edina High School girls hockey team.

Going into her third season as head coach at UMD, Crowell had already seen her staff go through a makeover this summer prior to Connolly’s resignation with Nick Bryant taking over as the new director of operations/equipment manager and Anthony Morando being named strength and conditioning coach.

Crowell said she will be taking her time hiring a new assistant. She added that it’s a tough time to be seeking an assistant coach with people already set in their jobs, so if she and Bellamy have to coach the Bulldogs this season themselves, they’ll do it.

“I don’t want to rush into anything,” Crowell said. “It’s a pretty important position. I’m not going to just grab the nearest person. If we’re going to bring anyone in, it’s going to be the right person.”

The Bulldogs open the season at 4 p.m. Saturday at Amsoil Arena with an exhibition against the Minnesota Whitecaps.

Matt Wellens

College hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune covering the Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs men's and women's teams, as well as the NCAA Division III programs at St. Scholastica and Wisconsin-Superior.

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