CANTON — Princeton University has hired St. Lawrence associate head coach Bob Prier to head its men's hockey program.
Prier has been St. Lawrence head coach Joe Marsh's top assistant for the past nine seasons. Prier came to St. Lawrence after serving as an assistant at Princeton in 2000-01. He will be formally introduced during a press conference at 11 a.m. Tuesday. (Broadcast live at GoPrincetonTigers.tv)
“It is an unbelievable opportunity for both my family and me and we look forward to becoming re-acclimated with Princeton University and its hockey program,” Prier said in a statement. “I also would like to thank all the coaches and players that I have worked with in the past as it is their influence that brings me here today.”
Perhaps none influenced Prier more than Marsh, who had been grooming him to take over the St. Lawrence program. Prier even headed the Saints during Marsh's four-game medical absence last season.
“I wanted him to be the coach in standing (when I retired),” Marsh said. “That wasn't to be. I think it was a situation where he had to look elsewhere. I think he was looking for this chance. He was not unhappy here, (but) you have to be paying attention to moving up the ladder.”
Marsh did not say who would replace Prier as his top assistant. Current assistant coach Mike Hurlbut is a likely candidate. He, too, has been with Marsh for nine seasons.
“We have a pretty short list,” Marsh said. “Right now, we're happy for Bob. He's earned this in so many ways. He's embraced every aspect of this job with so much enthusiasm. That's what he's going to bring to Princeton.”
Prier takes over for Guy Gadowsky, who left to head Penn State's new hockey program. Gadowsky left Princeton amid its best five-year run in program history. The Tigers have hosted an ECAC Playoff series in each of the last five seasons, including last year's first-round matchup with St. Lawrence. They've also finished in the top half of the conference standings in four of the last five seasons.
“As a coach in the league, I have witnessed firsthand the quality of players on the Princeton roster,” Prier said. “The Princeton hockey program is in a terrific state.”
He'll likely only strengthen it as a top recruiting talent. Prier helped bring to St. Lawrence consistently high-level talent and, last year, one the nation's best freshman classes.
Greg Carey, an ECAC rookie of the year finalist whom Prier personally recruited, said he was stunned by the news.
“It was pretty sudden,” Carey said. “It was kind of a shock. He's one of the reasons why I came here. He's a great coach and great guy. We're happy to see him go where he wanted to go.”
Prier becomes the second current ECAC coach who once served under Marsh. Colgate head coach Don Vaughn is also a former player and assistant at St. Lawrence.
“It's not like I deliver them,” Marsh said. “Any success I've had is having those guys with me. They've worked hard and it's nice to see them appreciated for their work.”
Marsh on his reach in ECAC: "It just means I'm old. Any success I've had is having those guys with me. They deserve the credit. It's not like I did it for them. They had an opportunity. Certainly, those guys are deserving of it. They've worked hard and it's nice to see them appreciated for their work."
Marsh on ECAC coaching movement: "There's more movement this year than any year I've seen. It's the changing times. Whether it's that peole are more worried about wins and losses or money, the whole model is changing. It's tougher to win. You have to constantly be aware of where you are and what your priorities are. It's different now. It's a different paradigm.
"It's just a idfferent landscape and with that comes different expectations. You hate to see good coaches move out. I think the world of George Roll and Greg Drexel. It's just a different world than it was. It's part of the whole change."