The all-time leading scorer in Northern Collegiate Hockey Association history men's hockey history is now the head coach of the NCHA's most-successful women's program. Shawn Skelly '11 has been named the fourth coach in the 11-year history of the Adrian Bulldogs, who have won the last four Kronschnabel Trophy cups (regular-season champion) and are the three-time defending Slaats Cup champions.
"I am pleased that Shawn has agreed to become the next head coach of our nationally-successful NCAA women's hockey program," Adrian athletics director Michael Duffy announced on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018. "I have seen Shawn first as a hockey student-athlete in the 2000s and then as an assistant coach under two successful head hockey coaches for the past two seasons. Working with Chad Davis and the 2016-17 women's program, and then Adam Krug on the men's side last season, Shawn has quickly developed his coaching skills.
"His hard work ethic and determination to succeed, plus his knowledge of the Bulldog hockey culture, will certainly help him in this, his first head coaching position. He is well-suited to lead our tradition-rich women's hockey squad at this time, as the Bulldogs continue to strive for NCAA titles, conference championships and producing well-rounded student-athletes for a productive life after college."
One of the most prolific point producers in NCAA Division III history, Skelly was a member of the inaugural Adrian College 2007-08 squad to finish his four-year career as the all-time leader in points (230), goals (102), game-winning goals (20), power-play goals (47), assists (128) and shots on goal (593). He ranks 29th in Division III point-scoring.
In 2016-17, Skelly returned to his alma mater as a women's hockey assistant coach on Davis' staff. He helped Adrian to its first appearance in the NCAA national title game and a sweep of NCHA regular-season and tournament championships en route to a record-breaking 28-3 campaign. He mentored freshman blueliner Kelly O'Sullivan into All-America status who also was named the USCHO.com Division III Women's Rookie of the Year and Sydney Smith repeating All-America honors.
Last season, Skelly was the top assistant on the coaching staff of his former linemate, Krug '12. Skelly worked with the AC defensemen and assisted Krug in all facets of the men's program to include recruiting, on-ice coaching, systems play, practice preparation and game planning. Skelly helped the Bulldogs give up the second-fewest goals in program history (54), ranking fifth in the nation in scoring defense at 1.80 goals per game a season ago. The penalty killing unit was seventh with an 88.5 percent success rate, and scored the third-most (7) shorthanded goals in Division III. Adrian captured the NCHA Peters Cup regular-season title for the fourth year in a row and finished fourth in the national rankings.
Prior to coming to Adrian for the 2016-17 season, Skelly played professional hockey for five teams--Mississippi Surge, Toledo Walleye, Wheeling Nailers, Alaska Aces and Macon Mayhem--from 2011 to 2016, appearing in the East Coast (ECHL) and Southern Professional hockey leagues (SPHL).
The Wolverine Lake product was a four-time all-conference standout who was named the 2009 Midwest Collegiate Hockey Association (MCHA) Player of the Year as a sophomore, when he led NCAA Division III in scoring with 69 points en route to USCHO First Team All-America status.
During his junior year, Skelly became the all-time points leader in MCHA (now known as the NCHA) history.
His collegiate hockey career culminated with American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) All-America First Team accolades after a 21+28=49 campaign and the 2011 Senior Male Athlete of the Year at the College.
During his four seasons wearing an Adrian jersey, Adrian collected four consecutive MCHA regular season titles, four conference tournament championships, and a trip to the NCAA final four culminating with a loss in the national championship game in 2011.
But now he'll get the opportunity to write some history while serving in his first capacity as a college head coach.
"I expect us to not lose a step from previous years," stated Skelly. "With our program being in the national championship two seasons ago and the NCAA Quarterfinals this past season, we have plenty of work to do in order to get back there and look to bring home our first national title.
"Taking over the program as one of the elite in the country is something again I'm very honored to be a part of and ready to lead our student-athletes to the top," he said. "It's going to take a lot of hard work and sacrifice but at the end of the day it will be worth all the blood, sweat, and tears."
Skelly graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 2011.