UPDATE: Leaman takes Providence job; Bennett appointed new Union head coach (with photo gallery)
After guiding the Union Dutchmen for eight years, culminating with the program's most successful season at the Division I level, coach Nate Leaman is leaving. He has accepted the job at Providence College.
Associate head coach Rick Bennett has been named to replace Leaman as head coach at Union. Bennett signed a four-year contract. Bennett, ironically, is a Providence graduate and has been with the Dutchmen for six years.
Leaman replaces Tim Army, who was let go shortly after the season ended. The Friars missed the Hockey East playoffs.
"We are thrilled to have Nate Leaman coming to Providence College to coach our men's hockey team," Providence College president Fr. Shanley said in a press release. "I believe he is the type of person who can lead our student-athletes and build our program."
Leaman had a 138-127-35 career record at Union. He guided the Dutchmen to a 26-10-4 record, and their first ECAC Hockey regular-season title with a 17-3-2 mark. They also made the NCAA tournament for the first time in their 20-year Division I history. To view a photo gallery, click HERE.
"I believe Nate Leaman has all the qualities necessary to put Providence College hockey in a position to be one of the top teams in Hockey East," Providence athletic director and former Union hockey coach Robert Driscoll said. "Having started my career at Union College, I have complete respect for what Nate was able to accomplish and build with the Dutchmen. Most importantly, Nate deserves full credit for everything he got done at Union, as he did it with a lot of hard work and perseverance."
Last year, the Dutchmen reached the ECACH final four, getting to the championship game before losing to Cornell, 3-0.
Last month, Leaman became the second coach to win the league's Tim Taylor Award as coach of the year in consecutive seasons.
Leaman was finishing the first year of a three-year contract extension. Last September, he was awarded a five-year contract extension that was supposed to start in the 2013-14 season.
Leaman will be formally introduced at Providence May 3. Union assistant coach Ben Barr will be leaving to join Leaman in Providence.
Union will have a 2:30 p.m. press conference today.