Back in May, the Alabama-Huntsville’s men’s hockey program was saved after a fundraising campaign raised more than $500,000 in five days. But one week later, the Chargers lost their head coach, Mike Corbett, who resigned.
On Tuesday, the Chargers announced that Lance West, who was Corbett’s assistant last season and was formerly the head coach at Alaska Fairbanks, was taking over the program.
“We are excited to officially announce Lance as head coach of the UAH hockey program,” said UAH AD Cade Smith. “”He has a deep understanding of what UAH hockey means to the community and an incredible pedigree within the college hockey landscape. We believe Lance will be successful in continuing the regrowth of the program and will attract successful student-athletes to UAH.”
West – a four-year letterwinner for UAH from 1991-95 – returned to Huntsville in 2018-19 as an assistant coach after a 10-season stint at fellow WCHA member Alaska Fairbanks where he was an assistant for nine campaigns before guiding the squad to the conference playoffs as interim head coach in 2017-18.
Prior to Alaska, West served as an assistant coach for UAH for a total of seven seasons from 2000-07 when he helped the team to a pair of College Hockey America regular season championships, four conference tournament appearances and one NCAA tournament berth. Moreover, West was a volunteer assistant coach for the Chargers from 1995-98 following his playing career, aiding the squad in winning the NCAA Division II National Championships in 1996 and 1998.
“I have spent 18 years either playing or coaching with the program, and I am very aware of and share the passion of our alumni and fan base for UAH hockey,” said West. “The challenges that lie ahead are tough, but I am excited to work together with the young men, staff and The University that have committed to making this a successful program.”
Back in May, the school announced it was cutting the program as part of wide-spreading budget cuts. One week later, the school announced the program was saved. More than $500,000 was raised in a GoFundMe campaign and two other donors (Taso Sofikitis and Sheldon Wolitski) pledged $250,000, bringing the total raised to more than $750,000. The school will pick up the remaining operating cost for next year.
UAH announced that it has also created a Hockey Advisory Board; they’re tasked with coming up with a plan for UAH’s hockey long-term survival. With the WCHA dissolving, UAH needs to find a new conference home. The school said that the operating budget would require $2 million annually and the school will cover $500,000, so the advisory board needs to find a way to annually raise $1.5 million.