August 23, 2006

Derraugh ’91 Named Women’s Hockey Head Coach

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After a successful campaign in which the women’s hockey team tripled its win total from the 2004-05 season, head coach Doug Derraugh ’91 had the interim tag removed from his title and is now officially the head coach for the long haul.
Derraugh replaces former head coach Melody Davidson, who took a leave of absence in 2005-06 to coach the Canadian women’s national team to a gold-medal performance at the Olympics in Tornio, Italy. Davidson had told Cornell Athletics Director Andy Noel before the Olympics that a job with Hockey Canada was her “dream job,” and when a position became available after the Olympics, she jumped at the opportunity.
“We’re really happy for her,” Noel said.
Derraugh played four years for the men’s hockey team as an undergraduate at Cornell, followed by 13 years of professional hockey in Europe. When he was given the opportunity last summer to return to his roots after Davidson opted to coach Canada in Torino, Derraugh knew he couldn’t resist coming back to East Hill.
“Last year was my first time coaching women’s hockey,” he said. “Being able to come back to the place that was the highlight of my playing career was just something I had to jump at. I learned that hockey is hockey, and the players responded last year.”
The 2005-06 season was extremely encouraging for Derraugh and the Red. Derraugh led the squad to a 9-18-1 record, including road victories at Brown and Harvard in the second half of the season. Derraugh knows that the Ancient Eight is extremely competitive and is proud to be able to build upon some good elements for the upcoming year.
“By far the two best wins were at Harvard and then Brown,” Derraugh said. “To win at Brown where we have not won in eight years was great. And anytime we beat Harvard in Harvard, especially two weeks before they win the ECACs, is a great sign for our group.”
The biggest difference for the head coach is his ability to prepare for the season without the interim title. Last year, he was unable to sink his teeth into the recruiting process. Additionally, he was unsure as to whether he would return this year, which left some instability in the program.
“I honestly did not know whether [Davidson] was coming back,” he said. “This year I’ve been able to get a handle on the recruiting process and more importantly, I know the players on the club, and I know most of the personalities; it won’t be as big of an adjustment.”
But Derraugh was able to bring in eight of recruits this season to strengthen his squad. Forwards Laura Danforth (Gross Pointe, Mich.), Rebecca Flewelling (Kanata, Ontario), Gabby Mazade (Downer’s Grove, Ill.), Megan Niesluchowski (Camarillo, Calif.), Liz Zorn (Churchville, N.Y.), defenders/forwards Melanie Jue (Richmond, British Columbia) and Kelly McGinty (Long Lake, Minn.) and goaltender Jennifer Niesluchowski (Camarillo, Calif.) are all expected to strengthen the team. Nevertheless, several returning players will work with Derraugh to lead the squad.
“[Senior] Caroline Scott, our captain for this year, is an extremely serious person academically, always competes and commands great respect from her teammates,” Derraugh said. “It will be exciting to see her, along with [junior Caeleigh] Beerworth and [senior] Beth [Baronick] as leaders on this team.”
Derraugh and the Red hope to build upon the encouraging improvement the team made and Derraugh hopes to get better used to the women’s hockey environment. One of the positives of women’s hockey, Derraugh noted, is the girl’s pure love for the game.
“With our league, there’s no NHL some players might be looking forward to,” said Derraugh. “These girls are playing the game because they love it, and their passion is truly genuine. I certainly feed off that, as does the team, and I am very excited to continue the improvements we made last year and make the playoffs.”