By Nate Tenopir, Sports Editor
As if the offseason hadn’t already been tough enough on the UNO hockey team, it was announced Sunday July 29 that Assistant Coach Brian Renfrew was taking a scouting position with the Winnipeg Jets. Renfrew came to Omaha in 2011 and spent just one year on Dean Blais’ staff.
Renfrew joins the list of four other Mavs who won’t be returning to the team or the coaching staff for the 2012/13 season. The team’s second-leading scorer, Terry Broadhurst, decided to forgo his senior season and take a contract with the Chicago Blackhawks in March.
Assistant Head Coach Mike Hastings left his job a month later to take the head coaching spot with another team of Mavericks, the purple Mavs of Minnesota State-Mankato. In July, Ryan Massa, who led the team with seven wins in net and a .914 save percentage, made the coaching staff aware that he would be taking the next season off.
A release from UNO indicated that Massa was leaving for a year due to personal reasons. Then last Wednesday, as indicated earlier in this issue, Jayson Megna signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The loss of Broadhurst and Megna takes 67 points off the roster, 29 goals and 38 assists. The loss of Hastings means the presumptive successor in waiting for Dean Blais is no longer with the staff.
Not having Massa on the team leaves a serious question in goal. John Faulkner has one more season of eligibility, but his 2011 was much more inconsistent than in 2010 when he won 20 games, had a .908 save percentage and a 2.56 goals against average.
However, there is help on the way. Former Lincoln Stars head coach Steve Johnson took Hastings’ vacant spot in June.
And Johnson won’t be learning on the job. Johnson played for North Dakota from 1984 to 1988 when Blais was the team’s assistant coach.
In his senior campaign Johnson was a Hobey Baker Award finalist and earned the WCHA Student-Athlete of the Year Award. Johnson’s college career included being named to All-WCHA teams, All-America teams and a national championship in 1987.
When camp begins in October, the Mavs will also welcome six new players including three that were drafted in the NHL Entry Draft in June.
Renfrew served his one year on the UNO coaching staff working with the Mavs’ goaltenders. Prior to Omaha, Renfrew spent the previous eight seasons with Michigan State, the last three as assistant head coach.
A search to replace Renfrew is underway though rumors on Twitter have pointed towards former Minnesota State-Mankato Head Coach Troy Jutting. Jutting had spent the previous 22 seasons with MSU, 10 as an assistant before taking the top spot for 12 seasons.
MSU let go of Jutting after the team finished 11th in the WCHA for the second season in a row. The purple Mavericks haven’t had a winning season since 2007/08.
Shane Frederick, the beat writer for the Mankato Free Press reported Thursday on the newspaper’s hockey blog that Jutting coming to Omaha was indeed happening. Frederick said his report came from Mankato sources.