Craig Russell begins his tenth season as head men’s ice hockey coach at Plymouth State in 2019-20, and his 21st year with the Panther hockey program overall. Russell played four seasons in a Panther uniform, served five years as assistant coach and two as associate head coach before becoming the program’s eighth head coach in 2010.
Russell has enjoyed incredible success during his nine seasons, boasting an overall record of 157-64-22 (.691). He has led the Panthers to at least a share of seven Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) regular season titles and three MASCAC Tournament championships and NCAA Tournament appearances. PSU has advanced to the MASCAC Tournament title game in seven of his nine seasons.
He guided the 2011-12 Panthers to the first MASCAC regular season and tournament titles, the first championship in the then 40-year history of the program. He duplicated the feat in 2014-15 and then again last winter.
Russell is a three-time MASCAC Coach of the Year, being honored following the 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons. He has had at least one athlete earn All-MASCAC First Team honors every season, including five of the six players on the All-Conference First Team in 2012-13. All told he has coached 22 First Team all-stars, 12 Second Teamers, two MASCAC Rookies of the Year and one Player of the Year. Following last season, senior goaltender Evan Morelli was honored by the Eastern Massachusetts Hockey Officials Association as the 2019 J. Thom Lawler Award winner, while classmate Michael Covach was named a New England Hockey Writers Association Division II/III All-Star and was one of six finalists for the prestigious Joe Concannon Award, just the second finalist in program history.
A 2003 graduate of Plymouth State, Russell played four years on the hockey team, serving as alternate captain as a senior. He was an on-ice and bench assistant coach for seven years as well as chief recruiter.
A native of Northfield, Vt., Russell joined the Panther staff as an assistant in 2003, and was elevated to associate head coach in 2008. He helped lead the Panthers to an 86-80-12 record as an assistant coach under coach Brett Tryder, with four post-season berths (three ECAC, one MASCAC).