Joe Kimball, Mercyhurst University’s director of athletics, announced at a news conference Tuesday that men’s hockey Rick Gotkin and women’s coach Michael Sisti have signed four-year contracts that will keep them with their respective NCAA Division I programs through the 2015-16 season.
Gotkin also confirmed that his Lakers have been invited to play an outdoor game against Ohio State in December 2013 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
“It’s an exciting day at Mercyhurst University, especially for our two hockey programs,” Kimball said.
Gotkin and Sisti still had one year left on three-year deals. Yet their new contracts, which replace those previous deals, allow them to maintain the continuity at the top of their programs that prospective student-athletes and their families search for during the recruiting process.
“When you look a kid in the eye and they ask if you’re going to be here, you’ve got the feeling you’re going to be here,” said Sisti, who heads into his 14th season as women’s coach after spending his first six years at Mercyhurst as Gotkin’s assistant. “But it’s nice to have it on paper, so you can look them in the eye back and say, ‘I’m definitely going to be here.’ It helps them feel good about the process.”
The first outdoor hockey game in school history also would serve as a great recruiting tool. Ohio State faced rival Michigan this past January in front of 25,864 fans at Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians baseball team, in the first outdoor college hockey game in Ohio.
“It’s a great reflection of our program from top to bottom,” Gotkin said. “I think people realize we have a big-time program.”
The game isn’t official yet, said Gotkin, who received the invitation from OSU officials this past weekend. The schools await confirmation from the Indians. Mercyhurst and OSU already are scheduled to play a two-game weekend series in Columbus Dec. 13-14, 2013. Gotkin said the Dec. 14 game would move to Progressive Field.
- Victor Fernandes