Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Noreen is ready to bring the Miami hockey program back to life through an emphasis on player development and culture

Noreen, the new face of the hockey program, speaks with conviction about his goals for Miami at a press conference
Noreen, the new face of the hockey program, speaks with conviction about his goals for Miami at a press conference

The Miami University hockey program finished the 2023-24 season at 7-26-3, its fifth consecutive losing record under head coach Chris Bergeron. Three days after the season ended with a 7-1 postseason loss in Grand Forks, Miami decided it would be best to move on from Bergeron in favor of a new direction. 

The search for a new bench boss began.

Director of Athletics David Sayler and Assistant Vice President of Development Brad Okel received plenty of interest in the vacancy. 

“There were countless conversations,” Sayler said. “Simply put, this was the best job that was open in college hockey. The interest was very strong. A lot of different people were reaching out on behalf of others or directly to us, so that was encouraging.”

Sayler and Okel looked for a coach who could meet many requirements and expectations. The transfer portal’s influence in college hockey is huge, so a coach who understands how to oversee all facets of a program was paramount in the list of needs. 

 “There are a lot of different external forces pulling at you,” Sayler said. “It isn’t the olden days when you get a student athlete to come in, and they’re pretty much with you for four years. We needed someone who understood the fluidity of all that and how they can manage those situations.”

The change in leadership is a sign that the long-awaited return of Miami hockey to the upper echelon was taking too long. Sayler was fervent in his speech about the future results. 

“This program is going to be a competitive program in the NCHC, and we’re going to compete for NCAA tournament bids,” Sayler said. “That’s the expectation, and that’s where we’re going.” 

Sayler’s confident statement led to the introduction of Anthony Noreen, the seventh head coach in RedHawks hockey history.

Noreen has plenty of experience through coaching and managing the Youngstown Phantoms and most recently the Tri-City Storm in the United States Hockey League. He knows the role of Miami hockey in the community and the weight on his shoulders to bring the program back to the promised land.

“This is a special place,” Noreen said. “It’s something I felt walking down through the hallways of that locker room, seeing the pictures, and feeling the aura of what Miami hockey is. It’s special, and it doesn’t become special overnight. Former coaches, former players and supporters of the program have made this what it is. It’s something that everyone involved should be extremely proud of, and it’s something I don’t take lightly.”

Under Noreen’s leadership at Tri-City, every player eligible for college hockey found their way into Division-I programs. He has also coached 34 NHL draft picks.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

Bringing in top talent is one piece of the puzzle. The difference will be how those players are developed on and off the ice.

“Our job is to use everything within our power to develop your players as people, leaders, and hockey players,” Noreen said. “Make it so they can play this game for a long time if that’s what their ultimate development leads to, but if not, they can be tremendous family leaders and highly employable adults that CEOs and business leaders want within their companies. That’s our goal.”

A gaggle of RedHawks players, including sophomore forward John Waldron and senior forward Ryan Sullivan, attended the press conference to show their support and hear what the new head coach had to say about the program's direction.

Waldron, who scored 22 points in 36 games for the RedHawks last season, was particularly interested in Noreen's comments about developing players.

“I’m pretty excited about how much he talks about development,” Waldron said. “I think that’s important because we all want to come out of here as better people and players. Just how focused he is on that gets me excited.”

As for Sullivan, he noted that returning to Miami for his fifth year was an easy choice after getting to know Noreen, and that he walks the talk when it comes to supporting his players through their hockey and academic journeys.

“I’ve had teammates and buddies play for him in juniors, and I played against him,” Sullivan said. “Everyone said the same thing: He’s a player’s coach. He cares about his guys, he’s honest with his development and he cares to help you, whether it’s moving on to pro hockey or through Miami University, so that was exciting and good to hear.”

Noreen’s passion for development and culture will manifest off the ice and on it. The playstyle he takes pride in marries speed and skill with unpredictability and toughness. But, once again, being a great teammate takes priority.

Part of building an environment of great players and even better teammates comes from setting the bar high. If there’s one thing Noreen did in his first appearance as Miami’s new head coach, it was making sure the players and those with a vested interest in the program's success knew how high his bar was.

“My standard is extremely high, and it’s not for everybody,” Noreen said. “But we will live by that standard. We will hold [the players] accountable to that standard. It will be uncomfortable to reach that standard. But I tell you what, there will be nobody in the world they will ever meet or be around who will support them and have their backs in reaching that standard more than I and my staff are.”

Reaching the goals that Noreen and the athletic department believe this program can reach is a multi-faceted affair, and there will be bumps along the way. But what’s important is having the discipline to be ready for those bumps and focus on getting better every day.

There was a sense of positivity among those who attended as everyone filed out of the club lounge. The new face of the program spoke with conviction about the fact that the team needs to be better, and, more importantly, he will be the one who puts them back on the right path, just as he did with the other organizations he has been a part of.

“I’ve been fortunate because I’m addicted to culture, leadership, building and growing,” Noreen said. “I feel very fortunate that I was able to come into a team that had missed the playoffs. I came into another team that just came off a last-place finish. I entered a collegiate program in my first coaching job that was coming off its worst finish in 20 years. The build is the fun [part] … The ride is what you remember; to me, this is the perfect time at the perfect place.”

Noreen will finish his stint as Tri-City's head coach as they progress through the postseason. Then, he will head to Oxford and begin to pave the pathway to success.