17 Sep
2020

Syracuse ice hockey head coach Flanagan shares past with Clarkson coaches

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ When Paul Flanagan became the first head coach in Syracuse women’s ice hockey history in 2008, he knew exactly who he wanted to help him build the program. The head coach asked Clarkson assistant coaches Matt and Shannon Desrosiers, who both played for him at St. Lawrence, to join his staff. The Desrosiers were intrigued and came to Syracuse to tour the athletic facilities. That same day, Clarkson head coach Rick Seeley took the same position at Quinnipiac, and the Desrosiers were offered and accepted the head coaching job at Clarkson, becoming the first husband-and-wife co-head coaches in college hockey history. And Flanagan was back to square one. ‘I remember when Shannon told me that they got offered the job at Clarkson, I couldn’t have been happier for them,’ Flanagan said. ‘I was disappointed for me because I thought I had two assistants, and then all of a sudden I was by myself.’ The Desrosiers returned to Syracuse with their Clarkson team and beat Flanagan and the Orange Friday. The two teams will meet again this Friday in Potsdam, N.Y., at 3 p.m. The matchup serves as a reminder of that whirlwind weekend and the bond the coaches share.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text For the Desrosiers, the opportunity at Clarkson was too good to pass up. It was an opportunity five years in the making that started with Flanagan. Shannon Desrosiers — then Shannon Smith — was in the spring semester of her senior year at St. Lawrence in 2003, but she still didn’t know what she was going to do after graduation. Flanagan helped her land an assistant coaching job. ‘He was the one that got me set up,’ she said. ‘He knew Clarkson was setting up a program, so he actually set me up with an interview with (then-Clarkson head coach) Rick (Seeley) after one of our practices one day. I definitely credit him with that.’ The two shared a special relationship that began when Flanagan took over the St. Lawrence women’s program in 1999. Shannon was his first recruit. She was the team captain and tied for the team lead in points her senior year. Flanagan said he knew she would coach one day, and the brand new Clarkson program was an ideal situation for her to break into the business. ‘I thought she’d be a perfect role model for their young women on their team,’ Flanagan said. ‘I think she was destined to get into it.’ Flanagan said he never thought Matt Desrosiers would end up coaching, though. Matt was an All-American defender at St. Lawrence who went on to play professionally for five years before joining Shannon as an assistant at Clarkson in 2006. Matt played his first two seasons under Flanagan when he was an assistant with the men’s program and said Flanagan mentored him early in his college career. ‘He definitely helped me transition into the college game,’ Matt said. ‘He showed me the ropes a little bit on what it took conditioning-wise, what it took to play at the college level.’ The Desrosiers said their coaching style is a hybrid of ideas from various coaches they played for. Flanagan’s influence can be seen in his former players’ program. Shannon said his recruiting ability impressed her. Matt said his work ethic and competitive nature was contagious. ‘Whenever we did workouts or whenever we had to do like a bike test, he was on the bike right next to us, doing it with us,’ Matt said. ‘He made it a competition. … He’d come in and say, ‘Well, I got this on the bike test, see if you can beat it.” The Desrosiers said they challenge their players in the same way in drills and conditioning. Their philosophies have worked through two seasons at Clarkson. The program emerged as a national power last year and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time. This year the Clarkson-Syracuse series provided another highlight for the coaches. The Desrosiers said it’s exciting to face their former coach, but it’s also a different experience. ‘It’s always bittersweet to play against him,’ Shannon said. ‘He’s just someone we respect a lot.’ Flanagan shares that respect for the Desrosiers. He is proud to see his former players leading their own program. ‘It’s pretty neat to see that they’re doing well,’ Flanagan said. ‘I wish them the best, except when they’re playing us.’ rjgery@syr.edu Commentscenter_img Published on November 10, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: rjgery@syr.edulast_img

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