Hanging up your hockey skates for a player is one of the hardest things they’ll ever do. Taking over a hockey program that put up two goose eggs in its first two seasons for a 0-44 record is even tougher. Right?Not if you ask Castleton State College men’s hockey coach and former pro player Alex Todd.
Todd, who played pro hockey for three seasons with his two best years being with the Fresno Falcons in the ECHL, says he doesn’t regret going from the ice to behind the bench.
Although the realization that you’re not going to make it to the NHL or AHL might be crushing for some players, Todd said it wasn’t for him. In fact, he claims it was a good thing.
“After three years of pro hockey, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to move up. And as much as I love playing hockey, the thing is with the minor leagues there are new, young faces coming in every year. As you grow up, you grow out of it. You like the job, but the lifestyle isn’t the greatest thing. I wanted to do something with hockey. I got enough injuries and scars to last the rest of my life and got out at the right time. So overall I’m happy about my decision to leave the game that I love, to teach what I know.”
Todd started his coaching career at Utica College as an assistant coach. One day while recruiting in the Vermont area, he heard about Castleton. He took a drive to the college campus and saw the brand new Castleton Hall and the top of the line workout facility. After talking to some people and seeing the master plan for the future of the college, it was settled, the new face of CSC hockey was here and ready to take the team where it had never been before, in the win column.
“I looked at it as an opportunity where some coaches looked at it as a dead end job,” Todd said.
The men’s ice hockey team got its first team win fittingly enough on home ice against Plymouth State College 2-1. In that same first season, the team got its first road win AND got their first ECAC east win against Connecticut College 4-3.
In Todd’s second season the Spartans at one point were ranked eighth in the nation for Division III hockey. They finished the year 17-6-4 ranked 11th in the rankings.
People who know Todd well would say, he’s tough and demanding, loves his players and loves his job.
Associate Dean of Athletics and Recreation, Deanna Tyson, is very pleased with what Todd has accomplished in the past five years.
“Alex came in and is doing an amazing job, turning the program around. One of his goals was to beat Middlebury and Norwich, which he did. Anytime I ask him to get something done he does it no problem. What can I say, he loves it here at Castleton,” Tyson said proudly.
One thing that Tyson believes that helps the team be so good is that Alex Todd also played Division I hockey at Union College. His leadership and knowledge of the game is what drives his players.
Todd has not only been a good coach on the ice, but off the ice as well. His team has proudly won the President Cup in the class room, the only male team here at CSC to do so.
Lindsey Gullett is a junior forward and has been coached by Todd for three years.
“He gets you ready for real life, like having a set schedule every day and time management. Also our age gap is tighter than with most coaches, since every guy on the team is older than a regular team here. He knows what it takes from playing and understanding us more.”
Senior Rob Doran isn’t a player, but he has gotten to know Todd by doing video work for him.
“The guy is dedicated, and loves what he does. He’s demanding, but at the same time he does it for a reason. And he has shown it in the past that when he demands more out of his players they give a lot back,” Doran said.
This will be Todd’s sixth season at the helm and because of his success and track record here, he has received many offers to coach elsewhere. But he said he’s staying put for now.
“If you take every offer that is presented to you, you’re just going to keep going around in a carousel,” he said, adding that he wants to continue making a mark here before – or if – he ever moves on.