Lake Forest College Head Men's Hockey Coach Ryan McKelvie announced Thursday that he will not return to direct the team for a fourth season in 2014-15. McKelvie will take over as head coach and director of hockey operations for an expansion U18 team that will play at the junior A tier III level.
"I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to serve as the men's hockey coach here at Lake Forest College," began McKelvie. "This is a special place and we have special group of young men on this hockey team, which made this a very difficult decision. The players have worked incredibly hard these past three years and I am proud of where they have taken this program. I am also eager to see what the future holds for Forester Men's Hockey. I can't thank Director of Athletics Jackie Slaats enough for giving me this opportunity as I will always look back fondly on my time here. Everyone at the College, from the faculty and staff to the students, have made this a tremendous experience for me. Most importantly, I want to thank all of the players who have given so much of themselves to this hockey program and have impacted my life so positively.
"My wife and I have decided to move on to a new chapter in our lives," he continues. "We are excited to be moving to Wenatchee, Washington, my wife's hometown, where we first met, and where we have often discussed making our home. I'm inspired to have the opportunity to grow hockey in the northwestern United States and look forward to a new experience starting this elite development program for high school aged players."
McKelvie came to Lake Forest College in 2011 and took over a program that won five games the previous season. McKelvie and assistant coach Pat Kelliher have led the Forester men's hockey program to a 10-game improvement over the last two seasons and the program's best overall record in 10 years. Lake Forest finished 15-12-1 overall and posted a 11-7-0 mark in NCHA play this past season, the squad's best conference record since the '92-'93 season. In addition to receiving votes for the top 15 in both major DIII men's hockey polls at the end of the regular season, the Foresters also recorded a 10-game unbeaten streak in the second half of the 2013-2014 season.
Fellow conference coaches selected McKelvie as the 2013-14 NCHA Coach of the Year and three of his players earned All-NCHA honors. Eight Foresters were also named to the NCHA All-Academic Team, giving McKelvie's players 22 such awards in his three seasons at the helm of the program.
"Ryan did a fantastic job revitalizing our men's hockey program," notes Lake Forest College Director of Athletics Jackie Slaats. "He was also a team player within our department and will be greatly missed. While I am sad to see Ryan leave, I am grateful for the contributions he has made to Forester Athletics and happy for the McKelvie's as they take advantage of this opportunity to be closer to family."
Prior to coming to Lake Forest, McKelvie served for one season as an assistant coach at the University of Anchorage-Alaska. The 2010-11 Seawolves posted their best Western Collegiate Hockey Association record since joining the league in 1993. He was the team's recruiting coordinator and academic advisor and assisted the head coach in nearly every aspect of the program.
McKelvie spent the previous two years as the associate head coach of the expansion Wenatchee Wild in the North American Hockey League. The Wild were 92-33-7 in his two seasons with the team and finished among the top three teams in the nation in their first two years of existence. His responsibilities spanned all facets of the program, which was directed by Paul Baxter, a 12-year NHL assistant coach and four-year head coach in the AHL/IHL.
Pat Kelliher, a Forester assistant men's hockey coach since 2010, has been promoted to the team's head coach (story). Per College policy, a national search will be conducted, with Kelliher as a candidate, at the conclusion of his interim appointment.