Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Mankowski leaving 'Diggers for Canisius College

Alpena head coach Mike Mankowski is leaving to become an assistant coach at Canisius College.

Alpena IceDiggers ownership and head coach Mike Mankowski have agreed to waive the coach's contract and obligations to the IceDiggers to pursue a career of coaching college hockey.

Mankowski is headed to Canisius College, located in Buffalo, N.Y., to serve as the assistant coach. He just finished his fourth season with the IceDiggers and is the only head coach in IceDiggers history. Canisius College, a NCAA Division I hockey program, is a member of the Atlantic Hockey conference. After a national search, they hired Dave Smith on April 15 as their head coach. Smith and Mankowski have worked together previously at USA Hockey Select Festivals.

"We appreciate all the hard work Mankowski has put into the IceDiggers organization and are very excited to have him move on to college hockey," said IceDiggers president Mike Bihn. "We have said all along that our goal was to move everyone on our team to college and/or pro, and that includes our coaches. This is clearly a positive thing for our organization. "

"My family was very excited to make the move to Alpena with the IceDiggers, but with the opportunity at hand my family will now be moving to Buffalo," said Mankowski. "I am very thankful for this opportunity the owners, staff and players have given to me." "We were able to win a championship together and advance over 20 players on to the next level, and that is what junior hockey is all about."

Mankowski will join former IceDiggers Archie Dessert (Connecticut), Bret Norris (Canisius), Bobby Phillips (Mercyhurst) and Paul Scalici (Bentley) who currently play in the Atlantic Hockey conference.

The Toledo IceDiggers won the Continental Elite Hockey League hampionship in 2002 and were runners-up in 2003. They finished sixth in the NAHL North Division in 2004 and 2005.

Recently relocated to Northern Lights Arena in Alpena, the IceDiggers feature 12 players that are age-eligible to return to action next season.

According to ownership, a replacement has been selected and will be announced within days.

Press release courtesy of Alpena's official Web site.

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