Newly hired University of Maine assistant hockey coach Tim Whitehead, who was the head coach at UMass-Lowell the past five years, will assume the role of interim head coach when Maine coach Shawn Walsh is unable to run the team due to his ongoing battle with kidney cancer.
“My role will change. It will depend on the situation. I’ll take on more responsibilities when Shawn needs me to,” said the 40-year-old Whitehead, who guided the River Hawks to a 76-95-12 record including a 19-16-3 mark last season.
He is currently filling that role because Walsh is hospitalized.
He was an assistant at Maine during the 1990-91 season when the Bears went 32-9-2 and reached the Frozen Four.
“Fortunately, I’ve worked with Shawn and [assistant] Grant [Standbrook] before and [assistant] Matt Thomas is a great guy. I know what Shawn expects and the players know what his expectations are. So even when he’s not here, things go smoothly,” said Whitehead whose coaching philosophies are similar.
“I’ve been really impressed with the attitudes of the players. They’re very positive. They’ve handled the situation very well. They’re working extremely hard,” said Whitehead who resigned at UMass-Lowell because he wanted at least a three-year contract and they offered him a two-year deal.
Whitehead said he has been fortunate to work with a lot of exceptional coaches like Walsh, Standbrook, Northeastern coach and former Maine and UML assistant Bruce Crowder and Middlebury College coach Bill Beaney, and that being a head coach has been “very valuable.
“I felt a lot more confident with each year under my belt. The more games you coach, the more you learn. I love to coach. That’s why I’m here,” said Whitehead.
Maine takes the ice for its first on-ice practice Tuesday.