Brian Idalski Named SCSU Head Women’s Hockey Coach

(Photo Courtesy Culver Academy)

St. Cloud, MN – St. Cloud State University announced on May 19th that former SCSU assistant coach Brian Idalski would be returning to lead the SCSU women’s hockey program as the 6th head coach in the history of the program. Idalski replaces Steve Macdonald whose contract was not renewed in March after three seasons as head coach.

“I am excited to welcome Brian Idalski back to St. Cloud State as our head women’s hockey coach,” said SCSU AD Heather Weems. “His background, experience, and success as a head coach at international, professional, and collegiate levels of women’s hockey make him a great fit for our Huskies program. Coach Idalski successfully built UND women’s program into a national contender and is recognized for his ability to raise performance expectations through recruiting and developing players. He has a strong understanding of the recruiting landscape and how to compete in the WCHA, the premier women’s collegiate hockey league.”

“I’m really excited to be back in St. Cloud and for the opportunity to lead the women’s hockey program,” said Idalski. “The WCHA is the best collegiate hockey conference in North America, and I look forward to building St. Cloud State into a winner. I’m thankful to Heather Weems and the search committee for entrusting me with this opportunity and can’t wait to get to work.”

Idalski, the 51-year-old native of Warren, MI spent one season as an assistant with Jeff Giesen in 2006-07 before being named head coach of the University of North Dakota women’s hockey program. Since the 2006-07 season at SCSU, Idalski gained a whole lot of head coaching experience including substantial international experience over the past 15 years.

A former defenseman for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point from 1991 to 1995, Idalski returned to his alma mater in 2001 after several years of professional hockey to lead the UWS  women’s hockey program. In five seasons his teams compiled a 108-21-11 record including three regular season NCHA conference championships and three playoff championships.

He then joined the SCSU Huskies as an assistant coach in 2006-07 before being named head coach at the University of North Dakota for the 2007-08 season, the 6th season for UND as a Division I program. Idalski had a successful run at UND for 11 seasons prior to the program being cut on March 29, 2017. Idalski compiled a 169-156-39 record with the team’s highest finish in the WCHA in second place in 2012-13. His teams also finished in third place three times in 2011-12, 2013-14, and 2014-15. His teams also qualified for the NCAA tournament in 2011-12 and 2012-13 and were ranked as high as 10th in the country during the 2010-11 season.

Following the discontinuance of women’s hockey at UND, Idalski spent one season as the Girls Hockey Director and Assistant Director of Admissions at Culver Academy (Culver, Indiana). He followed that with three seasons as the head coach for the Chinese entry into the Zhenskay Hockey League (ZhHL) formerly the Russian Women’s Hockey League, the HC Kunlun Red Star. In his first season, the team finished second in the ZhHL standings and won the ZhHL Cup.

(2022 Beijing Olympics)

Most recently, Idalski was named head coach of the Chinese women’s hockey Olympic team that participated in the 2022 Beijing Olympics. The team did surprisingly well in the Group B games finishing with a 2-2-0 record including a one-goal loss to Sweden and a two-goal loss to the Czech Republic.

Now, Idalski’s task will be to turn around an SCSU women’s hockey program participating in a league dominated by Big Ten schools Minnesota and Wisconsin who have combined for 20 of the 24 championships. The University of Minnesota-Duluth has won the title four times. With a few exceptions, the final regular-season standings have been dominated by the University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, University of Minnesota-Duluth, and Ohio State University.

However, it’ll be a challenge as the highest finish for St. Cloud State University has been a fourth-place finish which they accomplished in 2005-06, 2007-08, 2008-09, and 2009-10. Additionally, their last winning season was twelve seasons ago when the team finished 15-14-8 overall under head coach Jeff Giesen. Since that time, the team has had an overall record of 89-287-33 never finishing higher than 5th in the WCHA.

It will be interesting to see the staff that will be assembled and it could be that both current assistants Jinelle Siergiej and Molly Engstrom will remain as both currently have time remaining on their contracts. Engstrom was one of three finalists for this position along with UW-Eau Claire head women’s head hockey coach Erik Strand.

SCSU Brian Idalski Press Release

 

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