Former Spartan hockey standout Kyle Richards is still living the hockey dream.
However, instead of still lacing up the skates for the Spartans, he now has a new role behind the bench as head coach of the West Virginia University Division 1 club hockey team.
“It has been fun making the transition from playing hockey at Castleton to coaching at West Virginia. I feel like I haven’t missed a beat. I enjoy every minute of practices, games, and recruiting,” Richards said
Richards took over as the program’s new head coach in early November and since then the team has boasted an 14-8-1 record. In that span, the team has been able to go on the road and beat fifth ranked Ohio State, 12th ranked Navy, and 24th ranked Mercyhurst.
Ironically, Richards wasn’t the only member of his family making a playoff appearance in the CMHA Division 1 Club Hockey Championships. His brother, Brandon, is one of the team’s top forwards.
“I feel like our team has become so much better since Kyle has taken over,” Brandon said. “Kyle has a great deal of hockey knowledge and knows how to apply it in game situations. He knows exactly who to play and where to play them.”
A lot of Kyle’s knowledge of the game can be attributed to the coaching he had as a player at Castleton over four years. Many of the game-time systems and practice drills Richards uses mimics what he learned from current Castleton men’s hockey coach Stephen Moffat.
“Kyle was a good leader during practices; he displayed a great knowledge and passion for the game. Along with that passion he communicated well with his teammates on the ice,” Moffat said.
One of the players who is a leader in every practice and game for Richards is captain Zach Laduke, who also happens to be the team’s second leading scorer.
“Kyle has done a great job stepping in for us as the new head coach. He meshes really well with the players because he is a young coach and understands what it is like to be a college athlete,” Laduke Said.
Richards admittedly, however, has had a tough time adjusting to being a head coach at such a young age.
“One of the hardest things for me as a coach is realizing how close in age I am to the older players on my team. I have had to put age aside and realize that there are times when I have to be harder on my players in practices and games,” he said.
Whatever he’s doing, it seems to be working.
“We can really tell that he’s backing us 100 percent and fully trusts our team,” Laduke said.
The team finished 21-15-1 and lost in the league playoff final against Mercyhurst. Overall, the team was 14-8-1 with Richards as the coach and three players were selected to the all-conference team.