Ex-Dartmouth Coach Has New Home at KUA

By Tris Wykes

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 05-20-2016 12:11 AM

Meriden — Mark Hudak has been hired as head girls ice hockey coach at Kimball Union Academy, three months after he stepped down as the women’s coach at Dartmouth College. Hudak will also teach math and may take on additional duties, KUA athletic director Mike Doherty wrote in an email confirming the hiring.

Hudak was at Dartmouth for 18 years, the first five as an assistant coach. A 1989 Army-West Point graduate whose first full-time civilian job was teaching math and coaching at the New Hampton (N.H.) School, he said in February that he might return to prep school life.

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Hudak will be KUA’s fifth girls ice hockey coach in six years and its sixth in the last 10. He follows former U.S. Olympian Molly Engstrom, who lasted two years and recently resigned.

“I believe she has decided to pursue her pro hockey career,” Doherty wrote of Engstrom, who played last winter for the Connecticut Whale of the National Women’s Hockey League. Engstrom, a native of Siren, Wisc., did not respond to a text message sent Thursday afternoon. Doherty was not available Thursday night and did not respond to a request to be put in touch with Hudak.

Doherty said upon hiring Engstrom that “we see her as someone who’s going to be here for a number of years and give the program some stability. We heard all the right things for someone who’s a little bit of an unknown when it comes to coaching experience.”

The Wildcats were 12-13-2 last season and advanced to the Lake Region championship game, a year after going 12-10-4. According to the school’s website, the program is 100-118-31 during the past 10 seasons, posting three winning records in that span.

Hudak helped Dartmouth rise to new heights during five years as an assistant. Dartmouth was 114-40-8, winning two ECAC titles and three times reaching the national semifinals with him in that role. The program also advanced to the national semifinals during Hudak’s first two seasons as head coach, and the program was 90-34-8 during his first four campaigns.

Since that time, Dartmouth is 134-119-25 and it is 28-54-6 the last three seasons. The Big Green endured a 15-game winless streak and dropped four of its final six games last season. It finished 6-19-3, the fewest victories since the program’s 1977 varsity inception.

Dartmouth was 10th in the 12-team ECAC standings last season, six points out of a postseason berth.

The Big Green has missed the conference playoffs three times since they began in 1989, and two of those absences occurred during the past seven seasons.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.