Chris Luongo Out As Head Coach; Kurt Kleinendorst New Head Coach

Here’s the press release:

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Kurt Kleinendorst, a former assistant coach in the National Hockey League, has been named head coach of the men’s ice hockey team at The University of Alabama in Huntsville following the resignation of the Chargers’ current head coach Chris Luongo.

Kleinendorst served as an assistant coach and scout for the New Jersey Devils for nine years, and most recently was the head coach of the Binghamton Senators in the American Hockey League where he led that team to a conference championship in 2011. He also coached the Under-18 USA Hockey National Team to a gold medal in the world hockey championship in 2010.

“We believe Kurt Kleinendorst’s experience coaching at the highest levels of the National Team Development Program and professional ice hockey, and the discipline he will bring to the program on and off the ice, will create an environment that will allow us to enhance our status in Division I hockey as he takes over the reins as head coach,” said Athletic Director E.J. Brophy. “Our program is at a critical juncture in its history, and our best opportunity to maintain our tradition of competitive ice hockey lies with Kurt Kleinendorst.”

Kleinendorst played ice hockey for Providence College for four years, where he was an All-American and a Hobey Baker finalist. He was selected in the fourth round (77th overall) of the 1980 NHL entry draft by the New York Rangers. He was a member of the Tulsa Oilers team in the Central Hockey League, and played minor league hockey in Germany, Finland and the Netherlands through 1990.

He joined New Jersey in the National Hockey League as an assistant coach and scout, serving for nine years with the Devils organization. In that role, he helped the Devils win the 2000 Stanley Cup championship. Kleinendorst also coached the organization’s AHL affiliate, the Lowell Devils, from 2006 to 2009.

“During my 30-plus year association with Kurt Kleinendorst, I have been fortunate to watch him develop as a student-athlete, player, scout and coach at various levels,” said New Jersey Devils President/CEO/General Manager Lou Lamoriello. “There is no question in my mind that Kurt will be a decided asset to the University of Alabama-Huntsville hockey team both on and off the ice, and help UAH in their pursuit of a major Division I hockey conference affiliation.”

The Ottawa Senators signed him to a two-year contract in 2010 as head coach for their AHL affiliate Binghamton Senators. Also, Kleinendorst’s brother Scott played in the NHL.

Kurt and his wife, Deon, have four children: Ryan, Kollin, Kaitlyn and Jake.

I have a lot of thoughts about this, and I’m hoping to put them together for you this week. I got an email from Lou at 4:22 p.m. yesterday; by 5:00 p.m., this press release was public.

This is a huge change on a number of levels. I encourage all of you to—no matter your feelings on this matter—continue to support the program. You don’t hire Kurt Kleinendorst with the idea that you’ll drop to club hockey. No matter what this move may be internally, externally it is a huge “we are committed” to the WCHA. That cannot be stressed enough. If you want to see UAH continue on as a varsity program, Kurt Kleinendorst is your head coach, and we must ride with him.

More later after things settle down a bit.

Gameday Interview: Ferris State

We’re going to try to do this for every home game, and hopefully some away games if we can work out the technology. Here’s’s gameday interview with the UAH Hockey coaching staff:


Some brief notes from the coaches’ luncheon:

  1. Clarke Saunders will start tonight’s game.
  2. Cody Campbell is ineligible to play due to his NCAA eligibility clock having expired. Campbell attended British Columbia Institute of Technology for one full-time term in 2005, which started his NCAA eligibility clock. Campbell was playing junior B hockey at the time, and he worked, played hockey, and took classes all at once. This proved to be a hefty load, so he stopped going to school full-time after the one term. The next season, he got some ice time with Burnaby Express in the BCHL, and it was 2007-08 before Dennis Williams made initial contacts that ended up bringing him to Huntsville. As Campbell was not a true degree-seeking student and only attended one full-time term, UAH is hopeful that the NCAA will do right by him and reset his eligibility clock. As of now, Campbell is ineligible but is still working hard in classes and on his conditioning with the hopes that the NCAA will overturn its ruling.
  3. Lasse Uusivirta is ineligible for this weekend because the NCAA clearinghouse is not fully satisfied with his secondary school transcripts from Finland. The main issues are in translation and that Finnish secondary transcripts do not delineate when students take which courses, which is a standard practice in the US. Uusivirta’s family is working with his secondary school and UAH to satisfy the clearinghouse’s concerns, and everyone is hopeful that Lasse will be eligible to play next week.

There is no official word yet as to who will play and who will sit tonight. When we have that information, we will pass it along. You will also want to follow UAH Hockey on Twitter for pre-game, in-game, and post-game commentary from us. As soon as we have a line chart, we will put that information out to the public.

How to follow the game tonight if you’re not in Huntsville: Ferris State will have their audio feed from their radio broadcast [Real Audio Player required], and there is always the pay-per-view video option for 22 UAH Hockey broadcasts in 2010-11. Steve Moulton typically provides play-by-play for the B2 feed, but he will be out for Friday night and you will be stuck with my terrible p-b-p skills then. Also, there’s always UAH Hockey live stats.

Hope to see you at the rink, but if not, please keep in touch with us here at