Add another Lewiston name to the list of former local hockey players now running their own programs.

John Lauziere, who graduated from Lewiston High School in 1996, was hired this week as the new head coach of the University of Southern Maine’s women’s hockey program.

“The transition should be a smooth one,” said Lauziere, who has been an assistant with the USM men’s team for four years. “I’m not really concerned about the game itself. It’s still hockey.”

Lauziere said that a lot of people have asked how he planned to deal with the differences between the men’s and the women’s game, which operate under slightly different rules.

“Everyone involved, everyone on the ice is still a hockey player,” said Lauziere. “The only difference now is that they are women and not men. I spoke to a few of the players already, and I’m working already and finding that line in between.”

Lauziere takes over a program that has struggled in recent years. Last year, the Huskies won just six games and went 6-20-0 overall, 6-13-0 in ECAC East play.

“It’s not unlike what I had to deal with when I was a first-year coach here,” said Lauziere. “We weren’t that good to start that season, and we were able to turn it around. I think we started something like 0-8. I’ve been there, done that and I learned quickly how to keep things up-beat and positive. That’s the most important thing.”

The Huskies also have a unique ice surface – they play on an Olympic-sized ice sheet for their home games, something Lauziere said he hopes to take advantage of.

“The team wasn’t playing a style of hockey that used that ice to their full advantage,” said Lauziere. “That’s one thing I noticed, and that’s one thing I’d like to change. That’s a big advantage we have.”

Lauziere inherits an older squad, with eight seniors, and hopes that, too, will help him ease into the job.

As a player for USM from 1998-2002, Lauziere compiled 30 goals and 25 assists for 55 points and 85 penalty minutes for the Huskies. He graduated from USM with a bachelor’s degree in communication in 2002, and after playing a handful of games in Germany after graduating, returned as an assistant coach with the men’s program.

Lauziere’s first game behind the bench for USM will be Nov. 10, a home game against New England College.

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