Moorhead athletic director Don Hulbert said this morning assistant Pete Cullen has been recommended to become the school’s boys hockey coach for next season.
Cullen will go before the school board later this evening and it will be determined if he will take over the program. Hulbert said should Cullen be selected, he’d coach the team for one season before the position would open up again.
“It will be interim for one year in light of the fact that because we really didn’t have a lot of lead time,” Hulbert said. “Primarily, we want to attract the kind of coach that this program deserves and this school district deserves and we’ve had that stance in every activity and we felt this was a viable move.”
Moorhead has been without a hockey coach since longtime coach Dave Morinville retired last month so he could spend time with his wife and three adult daughters.
Under Morinville, Moorhead continued its place as one of the state’s respected programs by constantly playing tougher teams from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and finding a way to reach the state tournament.
The Spuds reached state this season and finished fourth. As a whole, the program has made 14 state tournament appearances and have finished second, a state record seven times. Moorhead has never won a state title.
Cullen, whose uncle, Terry Cullen, coached the program before Morinville, just completed his first year with the team. His cousins are also Minnesota Wild center Matt Cullen and forward Mark Cullen, who plays in the Florida Panthers’ system.
It would be Cullen’s first high school coaching position. He spent seven years as a youth hockey coach in Moorhead, Hulbert said.
Hulbert, who will also be leaving Moorhead at the end of the school year, said he has a “great interest” in seeing Cullen succeed.
“He’s the kind of guy kids really connect with and it says a lot about Pete,” Hulbert said. “He’s the kind of guy that commands respect and shows respect and he’s very congenial and is an open person in terms of interacting with the players.”
If Cullen were to get the position he would be getting a chance to see what he could do as Moorhead loses 12 seniors including goaltender Michael Bitzer, who was drafted by the Lincoln Stars last week.
Among the players returning would be playmaking centerman Thomas Carey along with forward Aaron Herdt, who was also taken in last week’s USHL Entry Draft by the Fargo Force.
Cullen’s top task would be to cultivate Moorhead’s inexperience and turn them into a Section 8AA contender, a section that has been dominated by Moorhead and Roseau for more than a decade.