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Huskies’ Adolph set to retire after 28 years with men’s hockey program

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Huskies’ Adolph set to retire after 28 years with men’s hockey program
WATCH: USask Huskies men's hockey coach Dave Adolph will retire in April after 28 seasons with the team. The Huskies have won seven conference titles during his tenure – Dec 9, 2020

When the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team returns to competitive action, it will do so with a new head coach.

Huskie Athletics announced Monday that longtime head coach Dave Adolph will retire in the spring after 28 seasons behind the bench.

“After a lot of self-discussion, I’ve decided that now is the right time to step back,” Adolph said in a press release.

“Over the last 28 years, the team has accomplished more than I could have imagined, and my family and I are all proud to be members of the Huskie men’s hockey program.”

With the 2020-21 Canada West hockey season cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Adolph has coached his final Huskies game. Even with the lost season, he retires as the winningest head coach in Canadian university men’s hockey history.

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“It is a loss for our program. He has set a high standard of excellence over a prolonged period of time, so those will be big shoes to fill,” said Dave Hardy, Chief Athletics Officer for Huskie Athletics.

Adolph has 488 regular season wins to his name, 456 of which came with the Huskies, whom he joined in 1993 following a stint at the University of Lethbridge. The team missed the playoffs in his first two seasons on the bench but hasn’t since, qualifying for the conference playoffs for the last 25 straight seasons.

Read more: Graduating players carve names into Saskatchewan Huskies history books

The Huskies bench boss has been named Canada West Coach of the Year four times and was named U Sports Coach of the Year in 2017.

During his tenure the Dogs have won seven Canada West championships and have reached the University Cup 16 times including eight in the last nine seasons.

“We decided quite a while ago that we were going to be an elite hockey program and to do that it took an awful lot of work and to maintain it, it has to be more than a passion, and that’s what it was,” Adolph told Global News.

The Swift Current native’s ties to the program go back even further, to 1979, when he first signed on as a defenceman after graduating from high school. Suiting up for 117 games in a Huskies uniform, Adolph capped his playing career by helping the team win its only national championship in 1983.

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A lot has changed since then. Nowadays the majority of Huskies players join the program after successful junior careers, elevating the overall skill and talent level of university hockey in the process.

The Huskies have also moved into a new home, leaving the ancient Rutherford Rink in 2018 and taking up residence at state-of-the-art Merlis Belsher Place.

“If there’s one regret it’s that I didn’t ride it (out) a bit longer at Merlis, but that place is just a goldmine, I think, for both men’s and women’s hockey,” Adolph said.

“The crowds that those kids played in front of the last two years, it’s awesome.”

Read more: Saskatchewan Huskies look for new home ice as arena identified as possible COVID-19 field hospital

The one thing missing on Adolph’s coaching resume is a national championship to go with the one he earned as a player, but he has no regrets there.

“One of the things that I never put pressure on myself about was winning and losing. Obviously we won way more than we lost but we spent all our time on the recruiting phase in terms of finding the right kids that fit our values,” he said.

“We knew we’d have a good team and a good long-term team if we found kids that really embraced the academic component and had a four- or five-year plan.”

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Adolph’s retirement is effective on May 1, 2021. He has no immediate plans for the future but is embracing the chance to see what comes next.

“It might just be walking my dogs longer, I don’t know, but it’s a perfect opportunity I think to allow my wife and I to take a deep breath and have a fresh start.”

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan Huskies look to bounce back after season-opening losses'
Saskatchewan Huskies look to bounce back after season-opening losses

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