STAMFORD, Conn. -- Former NCAA Division III national champion Jake Mastel has been hired as the head coach of the Connecticut Whale of the National Women's Hockey League.
"Jake Mastel is a great educator and has a strong technical knowledge of the game," said general manager Harry Rosenholtz, "He is the kind of leader that will be respected on and off the ice, and he has been a longtime advocate for women's hockey."
Mastel grew up in Minnesota, where he played two years in the USHL for the St. Paul Vulcans. He went to college at the University of Wisconsin River Falls, graduating in 1995. Mastel was a part of the UW-River Falls team that won a D-III national championship in 1994 and lost in the championship the year before.
After college, Mastel moved to Connecticut, where he has been involved with youth hockey from the instructional level up since his early 20s. He previously worked for the Assabet Valley girls organization as a head and assistant coach.
"It's such a rare, unique opportunity to get in on the ground floor of what's going to be a fantastic opportunity for women to continue hockey after they've graduated from college," Mastel said. "Our goal is to set a precedent and let the team grow from there. We're going to be in our infancy, and we can build going forward."
Last season, Mastel coached the U19 and U12 teams for the Mid-Fairfield Connecticut Stars. Over the last couple of years, Mastel has worked with Jessica Koizumi, who signed with the Whale in July, developing Beantown Classic teams.
He stood behind the bench at the Classic for Team RBK this year, including Olympic player Hilary Knight and current NWHL signees Jordan Smelker and Kaleigh Fratkin
"I have a team-first philosophy," Mastel said, "No one player is bigger than the team, and that's how I've always coached." "The Whale will have a team concept, not an 'I' concept, and the rest will take care of itself."
Connecticut will begin its season on Oct. 11 at home at Chelsea Piers-CT in Stamford. In addition to Koizumi and Fratkin, the Whale has signed college standouts such as Jaimie Leonoff, Kelly Babstock, and Chelsea Laden.
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