Dubuque Fighting Saints head coach and general manager Jason Lammers has been named the head coach of the Niagara University Purple Eagles. His tenure with the Purple Eagles will begin at the conclusion of the 2016–17 season with the Fighting Saints.
“It will have always been an honor and a privilege to serve as the head coach of the Fighting Saints, and to wear the D,” said Lammers. “This is an elite organization here in Dubuque, and we are blessed to have a tremendous ownership group, staff, and fanbase. I want to thank them all for what they do to make this place elite.”
Lammers was hired as the head coach and general manager of the Dubuque Fighting Saints on July 16, 2015, the third to hold that title since the franchise’s revival in 2010. His prior coaching journey brought him significant amounts of success in Dubuque. Lammers led the Saints to a 75-36-9 record throughout the regular season, a berth in the Clark Cup Final in his first season, and a return to the Eastern Conference Finals in his second season, with the playoff run still ongoing.
He represented the Dubuque Fighting Saints organization at the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game twice. In his first season, he served as the head coach of the victorious Team East in Omaha, and in his second season, as an assistant coach for Team East in Sioux Falls.
The team enjoyed a 10-game winning streak, the franchise’s longest, during the span of December 4, 2015, and January 2, 2016, under Lammers’ direction. He also led a mostly retooled team with just five returners, the fewest for any USHL team, during the 2016–17 season, to the playoffs.
He also held a significant part in the development of new Arizona Coyotes goaltender Hunter Miska, who led the University of Minnesota-Duluth to the NCAA Championship game in early April. Miska signed an entry-level deal with the Coyotes following a freshman season where he was named a finalist for the Mike Richter Award for the best goaltender in the NCAA, and a season where he was named theDave Peterson Goalie of the Year for his exceptional season in Dubuque.
Outstanding Penn State University freshman Nathan Sucese, who notched a career-high 59 points with the Saints during the 2015–16 season, benefitted from Lammers’ direction. The speedy forward more than doubled his offensive output in his second season and Dubuque, and then moved on to the next level to help lead the Nittany Lions to a Big Ten Championship in March.
2017 NHL Draft prospect Zach Solow, who led the USHL in scoring during the regular season, was named USHL Forward of the Year for his exploits under Lammers’ watch. Forward Colin Theisen more than doubled his goal output, and more than tripled his point output from his first season to his second under Lammers’ direction.
Forward Cole Guttman took leaps and bounds in his development as one of the most electrifying rookies in the USHL. Under Lammers’ direction, Guttman finished second in rookie scoring behind Russian phenom Andrei Svechnikov, and posted points in 38 of 53 games he played this season, and finished seventh in overall scoring with 54 points.
“We are tremendously proud and happy for Jason and his family. These moments are always bittersweet as we hate to lose a talented coach like Jason, but we understand that our role for the players and staff is to provide the best platform to prepare them for bigger and better things,” said Brad Kwong, the managing partner of Northern Lights Hockey, LLC. “Jason is an elite coach who understands how to connect with today’s player. He is an excellent communicator who leads with humility and selflessness. These characteristics will enable him to have success at Niagara University and beyond.”
“On behalf of Northern Lights Hockey, I would like to thank Jason for his tremendous effort as the head coach and GM of the Fighting Saints, and wish him and his family all the best at Niagara.”
Prior to joining the Fighting Saints organization, Lammers served as a longtime assistant coach, and then associate, to head coach Norm Bazin at UMass-Lowell. In his time there, he helped lead the River Hawks to two Hockey East championships, and three trips to the NCAA Tournament, including one run to the Frozen Four in 2013. His time at UMass-Lowell saw him develop players to the NHL level, including Minnesota Wild defenseman Christian Folin, and Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. It was there that he also earned his master’s degree in education.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Pa., Lammers’ hockey journey has taken him just about everywhere in the United States. He has spent time on the coaching staff at Clarkson University, Hobart College, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Princeton University, SUNY-Geneseo, Ohio State University, Colorado College, and UMass-Lowell.
Lammers graduated from SUNY-Geneseo with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1998. He earned All-SUNYAC Second Team honors in his senior season as team captain. Following a four-year stint as a player at Geneseo, he went on to play professional hockey with the Idaho Steelheads and the Phoenix Mustangs of the now-defunct West Coast Hockey League, where he won a Taylor Cup championship with the Mustangs in 2000.
All three coaches who have been in Dubuque, including Lammers, Matt Shaw, and Jim Montgomery, have made the jump to the NCAA ranks. The tradition of success continued under their watch, as the team has made the Clark Cup playoffs in seven consecutive seasons, and has made it past the first round of the playoffs in all seven of those seasons.
“We still have a mission ahead of us here in Dubuque, which is to be the best team at the end of the season, and to win our last game,” Lammers added.
Niagara University competes in the Atlantic Hockey Conference, along with Air Force, American International College, Army West Point, Bentley University, Canisius College, Holy Cross, Mercyhurst University, Robert Morris University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Sacred Heart University.
The Purple Eagles have made it to the NCAA Tournament four times, including berths in 2000, 2004, 2008, and most recently in 2013.
Lammers will make the journey to the Empire State along with his wife, Michelle, son, Rhett, and daughter, Bryn, following the conclusion of the Fighting Saints season.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 15th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2016-17. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in four consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.
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