For the third time in four seasons at Minnesota Duluth, Laura Bellamy has taken over as head coach of the Bulldogs while Maura Crowell performs her duties with the U.S. Under-18 Women's National Team at the World Championship.
The 2009 Duluth Denfeld graduate is only in her late 20s, but with early success during her two seasons as an assistant at her alma mater, Harvard, and now with UMD, Bellamy appears primed to be an NCAA Division I head coach in the near future.
"Anytime now," Crowell said. "She is qualified, yes. He heart is in Duluth, though. For awhile, I hope."
Bellamy will lead the Bulldogs this weekend at the inaugural Minnesota Cup at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, where UMD opens against the host Gophers at 4:07 p.m. Saturday before taking on either Minnesota State-Mankato or St. Cloud State at 1:07 p.m. Sunday.
Next year the tournament moves to Duluth, with the Bulldogs hosting and Bemidji State rotating in. Bellamy plans to be there at Amsoil Arena as an assistant coach at UMD - unless of course Crowell returns for a second year as head coach of Team USA. Then she's happy to again serve as head coach.
"I'd love to be a head coach some day, but I try not to get too far ahead of myself," said Bellamy, the former standout goaltender of the Duluth Northern Stars who was a guest this week on the News Tribune's Bulldog Insider Podcast. "I think the most important job is the one being done right now and then good things will happen down the road.
"To be able to be a head coach of a Division I program would be a dream come true. And I think, while still being relatively young compared to a lot of coaches in our game, I understand that that could be a longer road. Again, timing is a big piece of it."
For Bellamy, timing has been everything in her coaching career.
She was planning to apply for medical school during the first semester of her senior season in the Crimson crease in 2012-13. Then during the second semester, she changed her tune and wanted to look into teaching or coaching.
The Harvard women's hockey team happened to have a temporary coaching job opening up for 2013-14 while head coach Katey Stone coached the U.S. Women's National and Olympic teams. Crowell was set to serve as the interim head coach in Stone's absence.
Bellamy threw her name into the hat to assist Crowell.
"They needed an assistant for 10 months and I said, please interview me. I want that spot. They kind of laughed," Bellamy said. "They thought I was kidding at first."
She wasn't kidding. She interviewed, got the job and was kept on for a second season - one in which Crowell was promoted to associate head coach and the Crimson played for an NCAA title. A few months after that defeat, Crowell was hired to replace Shannon Miller at UMD.
This time, Crowell approached Bellamy about applying. She not only hired her former assistant, she made the young coach her top lieutenant and let her run the Bulldogs during the 2016 U-18 Women's World Championship in St. Catharines, Ontario, where Crowell was a Team USA assistant.
Bellamy ran the program last year, too, while Crowell was a U.S. associate head coach in Moscow, Russia. It's an opportunity Bellamy cherishes, she said.
"I just so appreciate the trust Coach has in me," Bellamy said. "I feel like she's prepared me really well and put my feet to the fire from day one here in Duluth. So when she's gone, I feel prepared to take the reins."
Bellamy said Crowell's presence is missed when she is with Team USA, but the transition is rather seamless. It is after all the duo's sixth season together. They also communicate regularly, Bellamy said.
The Bulldogs' top players echoed that sentiment. Junior goaltender Maddie Rooney and junior captain Sydney Brodt said the program doesn't miss a beat when Crowell is away and that's a credit to Bellamy. Despite not being much older than them, she's a coach they have a ton of respect for, they said.
"She brings light energy, she's funny on the ice, goofy, but she's also very serious," Rooney said. "It's good to have that balance as a coach. Now that Maura is gone, you really see her step up."
Rooney and Brodt said Bellamy also brings a wealth of knowledge and a perspective from her playing days that everyone - goalies and skaters - value.
Rooney and Brodt said Bellamy has provided some of the best shooting tips they've heard.
No, Bellamy has never scored a goal from the crease - she said she did try once at Harvard - but who would know better than how to beat a goalie, than a goalie herself?
"She talks to me a lot about scoring goals," Brodt said. "As a goalie, she knows what's hard and what's not. She works with me a lot on creating different angles on my shots, just little areas around the net that are hard for goalies."