|Alma Mater:||Wisconsin-Stevens Point|
Brian Idalski enters his 10th season as head coach of the University of North Dakota women’s hockey program in 2016-17. He has laid a strong foundation for years to come with flourishing recruiting classes, a strong sense of accountability throughout the locker room and a distinguished coaching staff with experience collegiately, professionally, nationally and internationally.
Since the day he was hired on April 11, 2007, and officially introduced at an April 12 press conference at the Ralph Engelstad Arena as the second head coach in program history, Idalski has believed that with second-to-none facilities, a fan base devoted to its UND athletics and hockey, and the vast educational opportunities at the University of North Dakota, the women’s hockey team should gain its ranks as a traditional powerhouse in the national scene.
Idalski has done just that. Inheriting a team that went 3-31-2 prior to his arrival, Idalski has propelled North Dakota to national prominence, as his teams have become regulars in the nation’s top-10 polls. In the past six season, Idalski has posted an overall record of 128-73-19 (.625), including a 93-57-18 (.607) mark in conference games.
Not only has his staff gone global to recruit the top-end talent from the International Ice Hockey Federation, it has grown a pipeline into USA Hockey and Hockey Canada, along with the keeping the local standouts from Minnesota, North Dakota and Manitoba.
During his tenure at UND, the program attracted its first-ever Olympian in Susanne Fellner (2006 Olympics, German National Team), first-ever active student-athlete Olympians in Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux (2010 Olympics, U.S. National Team) and first-ever recruited Olympian in Michelle Karvinen (2010 Olympics, Finnish National Team).
The 2015-16 season saw UND jump out to its best start in program history, going undefeated in its first five games of the year. North Dakota also recorded a program first with a road sweep against Minneosta Duluth (Jan. 15-16). Idalski returned his team to its sixth straight Final Face-Off appearance, but the season would come to an end in the semifinals against eventual national champion Minnesota. UND was the only team in the nation that year to defeat two No. 1-ranked teams (Minnesota, Sept. 30, and Wisconsin, Dec. 11). Goaltender Shelby Amsley-Benzie also became the program’s three-time CoSIDA Academic All-American and two-time WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year recipient.
During the 2014-15 season, Idalski led his squad to a fourth-straight 20-win season. Unfortunately, UND’s season would end with a 4-1 loss to eventual Final Face-Off champions Wisconsin in the semifinals of the tournament. North Dakota recorded four wins over nationally-ranked teams that season, including a 3-0 win against No. 2 Minnesota in front of 4,818 fans at the Ralph Engelstad Arena. The season also saw UND pick up its first-ever WCHA Goaltending Champion award, as Shelby Amsley-Benzie set multiple school records, turning in a career best .952 save percentage and a 1.21 goals-against average.
UND was represented by nine players on three different national teams at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Susanne Fellner played in her third Olympic Games, while Jocelyne Lamoureux, Monique Lamoureux and Michelle Karvinen all made their second Olympic appearances. Additionally, Tanja Eisenschmid (German National Team) and Susanna Tapani (Finnish National Team) became the fifth and sixth UND Olympians in program history. Additionally, Team Finland’s Vilma Tanskanen, Anna Kilponen and Emma Nuutinen would all later commit and enroll at UND.
At the Winter Games, Karvinen led all skaters in the women’s tournament with five goals and two assists and was named the Olympics’ best forward, becoming the first non-North American to earn the award. Winning silver with Team USA, the Lamoureuxs became the first North Dakotans to win multiple Olympic medals.
Even with the departure of the Lamoureux’s in 2013, UND remained one of the top programs in the nation in 2013-14. North Dakota posted five wins over nationally-ranked teams, including a 3-2 win over No. 1 Minnesota on Nov. 17, ending the Gophers’ historic 62-game winning streak. After returning its three student-athletes from the Olympics, UND downed Bemidji State in two games to earn its fourth-straight trip to the WCHA Final Face-Off, and for the second-straight year defeated a top-three-ranked Wisconsin team in the semifinals to reach the championship game.
In 2012-13 Idalski led the program to new heights, as the team reached the WCHA Final Face-Off championship game for the first time, and made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Posting a 26-12-1 record, the season marked the third straight-season of 20-plus wins.
UND continued to progress as program in 2011-12 as Idalski and staff led the squad to its first NCAA Tournament appearance and a program-record 22 wins. With an overall record of 22-12-3, 10 of UND’s losses came against ranked opponents, four against eventual national champion Minnesota and three against runner-up Wisconsin. North Dakota was the only team in the nation to beat Minnesota twice during its national championship season.
Under his tutelage in 2010-11, UND had a 20-win season, a playoff series win over Bemidji State sending them to the WCHA Final Face-Off, and nearly to the NCAA Tournament after finishing ninth in the Pairwise Rankings – all firsts. North Dakota posted a record of 6-9 against the eight teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament, with five of those nine losses coming to eventual national champion Wisconsin.
During the 2009-10 season, UND defeated a top-ranked team for the first time as they shutout No. 1 Wisconsin, on the road on the night they hung their national championship banner, to stun over 2,500 Badger fans in attendance at the Kohl Center.
In his first season behind the North Dakota bench, Idalski guided a youthful team to a four-win WCHA improvement from the previous season. Along the way, UND also increased its offensive output by half a goal per game while lowering its goals against by nearly the same margin from 2007-08. All were promising signs that better day were ahead for a program that is essentially still in its relative infancy. Prior to coming to UND, Idalski spent the 2006-07 season as an assistant coach with St. Cloud State University’s women’s hockey program, where his primary responsibilities included coaching the defensemen, scouting opponents and overseeing all aspects of recruiting.
Before that, Idalski enjoyed a highly successful five-year tenure as head women’s hockey coach at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where he amassed a 108-21-11 (.811) record and was a four-time finalist as American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) National Coach of the Year.
Idalski guided UW-Stevens Point to an NCAA Division III runner-up finish in 2003-04, a third-place national finish in 2005-06 and a national quarterfinal finish in 2004-05. He led the Pointers to three Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) regular season championships (2002, 2005, 2006) and four NCHA playoff titles (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006) and was twice named NCHA Coach of the Year (2002, 2005). During his time at UW-Stevens Point, Idalski tutored three All-Americans, six Academic All-Americans and 17 All-NCHA selections.
In 2005-06, his final year at UW-Stevens Point, the Pointers went 21-5-4 overall and 11-1-3 during league play and advanced to the Division III Frozen Four for the second time in three years, where they finished third.
During 2004-05, the Pointers posted a 22-3-1 record and became the first team to finish the NCHA regular season undefeated as Idalski was named the league’s coach of the year for the second time in his career.
In 2003-04, just his third year at the helm, the Pointers finished 19-7-2 and played one of the nation’s strongest schedules, taking on six of the top eight teams in the country. Currently, UW-Stevens Point is still the only West Region team to reach the Division III NCAA National Title game, falling 2-1 to host Middlebury (Vt.).
Being named the NCHA Coach of the Year after his first year as head coach with the Pointers, Idalski also earned NCHA regular season and playoff titles after finishing 20-5-2 in 2002-03 and 26-1 in 2001-02.
A four-year letterwinner at UW-Stevens Point from 1991-1995, Idalski was a member of the Pointers’ NCAA Division III runner-up team in 1992 and was a sophomore on the 1993 Division III national championship team. In 97 career games as a defenseman, he tallied five goals and 20 assists.
Following his Pointer playing days, Idalski went on to play professional hockey for two years with the Madison Monsters of the United Hockey League from 1995-1997. He then played two seasons with the Columbus (Ga.) Cottonmouths of the Central Hockey League from 1997-1999, and won the 1998 CHL regular season and playoff championship. After his professional playing days, Idalski spent the 1999-2000 season as the full-time assistant coach with the Cottonmouths.
Idalski has also been involved for several years as an instructor at the USA Hockey National Development Camps and other instructional hockey camps throughout North America.
A Warren, Mich., native, Idalski and his wife, Nicole, have four sons, Beau, Jason, David and Mitchel.