Six years ago, while filling in for Scott Sandelin at the Bulldogs’ weekly press conference, Jason Herter used the term “skating refrigerators” to describe a Western Michigan team that used its size and physicality to win a series at Amsoil Arena.
Now the former longtime Minnesota Duluth assistant coach and associate head coach is joining the Broncos as an associate head coach.
Speaking with the radio voice of UMD hockey, Bruce Ciskie, on KDAL on Wednesday morning, Herter first confirmed the rumors that have been swirling around ever since his longtime friend, Pat Ferschweiler, was promoted to head coach at Western following the resignation of Andy Murray on Aug. 3.
Herter and Ferschweiler founded the Russell Stover youth hockey program in Kansas City in the early 2000s. The “skating refrigerators” line Herter dropped back in March 2015 was actually an inside joke between him and Ferschweiler from their days together in Kansas City.
“It worked out to be a perfect situation, and timing is everything in hockey,” Herter told the News Tribune. “I’m very, very fortunate to have an opportunity to not only be back in the NCHC, but to work with a head coach who’s a friend again.”
Herter will get to see his old team, and friend Scott Sandelin, again pretty early when the Broncos host the Bulldogs on Nov. 5-6 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to open NCHC play.
Herter helped coach the Bulldogs to two NCHC Frozen Faceoff titles, five NCAA tournament appearances, three Frozen Fours and back-to-back national championships in his nine seasons on the Bulldogs bench from 2011-2020.
Promoted from assistant coach to associate head coach in 2018, Herter decided to step away from his job at UMD in the spring of 2020 in order to spend more time with his family and on his Hermantown hobby farm. He also wanted to pursue possible jobs in the NHL.
The COVID-19 pandemic kept Herter from landing a job at the professional level, where budgets have tightened due to a lack of fans in buildings. However, he did get plenty done on his farm, planting red potatoes — from the family farm of former Bulldog Jade Miller — carrots and beets.
Herter also got to spend a significant amount of time with his family, who will all watch over the farm while he coaches the Broncos. He even spent some time helping coach his son, Jacob, and the Minnesota Wilderness. That was the first time Herter ever had the chance to coach his son, who will play for NCAA Division III Bethel this season.
He said the year off really helped him mentally recharge, and become hungry again as a coach.
“It also gave me a chance to spend much-needed time with my family that I haven't done the last 10 years because I've always been spending it with other people’s families,” Herter said. “I don't regret it, don't get me wrong, I don't regret it. But (the break) was much needed.
“I'm very, very fortunate to have another opportunity because not a lot of guys get other opportunities.”