Hockey program rooted in family talentBy Bryan Bergman | 10/14/2013 11:18pm
If you follow hockey, you may recognize the name Quenneville. Joel Quenneville has been the coach of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks since 2008, leading the team to two Stanley Cups. However, he isn’t the only hockey coach in the Quenneville family. His cousin, Mike, is now in his fourth season as the head coach of the Alabama Frozen Tide.
A native of Massena, N.Y., a small town on the Canadian border about 75 miles south of Ottawa, Quenneville began his collegiate hockey career at Canton ATC, now called SUNY Canton. While there, he was named an All-American and helped the Kangaroos win the NJCAA National Championship in 1987.
“My parents couldn’t afford prep school, so I didn’t have the grades to go anywhere,” Quenneville said. “I didn’t have any offers, so I went to junior college, I graduated and I got a full ride to the University of Alabama-Huntsville to play NCAA Division I hockey.”
After graduating from UAH, he became an assistant coach for the Chargers in the 1989-90 season. Following coaching at the high school level, Quenneville returned to UAH as an assistant, helping the Chargers win two NCAA Division II National Championships.
Prior to being hired as the Frozen Tide’s head coach, he served as an assistant at Alabama for two seasons. Although he has only been the head coach for a short time, Quenneville has already left his mark on the hockey program. In his second season in 2011-12, he led the Frozen Tide to its first trip to the ACHA National Championships. For his efforts, he was named ACHA Men’s Division III Coach of the Year.
“The big thing with coach Q is he puts more time into it than most people do for the program as a whole,” forward Clay Link said. “In terms of game management, he’s a great bench leader; he’s great at enforcing team policy.”
Despite the fact that some hockey coaches are known for being hot-tempered, forward Kenny Janssen said Quenneville prefers to wait for the right time to show his emotions.
“When he gets fired up, it’s to fire us up if we’re not playing very well. If we’re being lazy on the ice, he’ll come in and get us ready to go for the next period,” Janssen said.
Up next for Quenneville and the Frozen Tide are games against South Florida and Christopher-Newport this weekend. Although these are nonconference matchups, Quenneville said the team has a target on its back no matter who it plays.
“Everybody wants to beat us because we’re Alabama,” Quenneville said. “They’re sick of seeing the football team on TV. For a lot of teams, that would make their season if they could beat Alabama.”