Kate Lachapelle, center, gives instructions to the Holy Cross women’s hockey team. Lachapelle, who attended Lewiston High School, has been named Holy Cross’ head coach after spending the previous two seasons as associate head coach at the school. Mark Seliger Photography

Katie Lachapelle’s goal was always to become a Division I women’s hockey coach.

Now the Lewiston native and 2015 Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame inductee will get her chance. She has been named the head coach of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she has been the associate head coach the past two seasons.

“It was such a good opportunity,” Lachapelle said. “There was a few other schools’ (head coaching jobs) that opened up, but to stay in Hockey East and staying in the New England area — I love Hockey East, it just seemed a great opportunity.”

Lachapelle was a three-sport athlete (ice hockey, field hockey, and softball) at Lewiston High School and was a member of the school’s 1995 state championship boys hockey team. After that, she played ice hockey and field hockey at Providence College.

Prior to Holy Cross, Lachapelle spent nine years at Boston University as an assistant coach, from 2008 to 2017. She also had stops at Niagara University (in Lewiston, New York) and Ohio State as an assistant coach. In addition to coaching at the college level, she has been coaching the nation’s best young players as an assistant coach for Team USA’s Under-18 team since 2013.

She will be taking over for Peter Van Buskirk, who is retiring after 19 years behind the Crusaders bench.

“I am excited to see Katie take the progress that Peter has made and grow our program to the next level of competitive hockey,” Holy Cross director of athletics Brendan Sullivan said in news release announcing Van Buskirk retirement. “With her experience in Hockey East as both a player and coach, as well as her impressive resume developing the U.S. National Team, I know that Katie is the right person to lead us forward and on to future success.”

While at Boston University, Lachapelle helped build the Terriers program that won five Hockey East titles while reaching the NCAA Tournament six times. She coached Canadian Olympians Marie-Philip Poulin, Jenn Wakefield, Catherine Ward and Tara Watchorn. She also coached Kasey Boucher, also a Lewiston native,at Boston.

Holy Cross just completed its first season in Hockey East after spending 2017-18 as an independent. Prior to last season, the school played a hybrid schedule between NCAA Division I, Division II and Division III schools, but weren’t eligible to play in either the Division I or Division III national tournaments (Division II does not have a national tournament).

Now Lachapelle will be in charge of leading the program to the same level as Boston. Her experience building the Terriers to a national power made her a perfect candidate when she applied to be Van Buskirk’s assistant.

“It was a good experience to go through,” Lachapelle said. “When I first got to BU, they had a good base. (Head coach) Brian (Durocher) had an year to go out and do some recruiting before their program started. We didn’t have that luxury here, but we did have a team in place, which was nice. We are going to up the level in recruiting.”

With Van Buskirk’s retirement coming after this season, Lachapelle took on more responsibilities this season.

“She was the main instructor out there (in practice), she was the main person who headed up the recruiting along with another assistant we had (Maddy Norton),” Van Buskirk said. “She kind of fully ingrained directing and steering the program while it was moving into Hockey East.”

He said Lachapelle has earned the respect of the players.

After a 16-9-3 record in 2017-18, the Crusaders had a tough first year in Hockey East and with a full Division I schedule, finishing 1-29-3. The win came against Northeastern, the No. 5 team in the country at the time, on Nov. 30.

After a one-win season, the only way is to go up in 2019-20.

“We had a meeting the other day and our challenge to this next group was the seniors are now gone and we got to take the next step in program. Everybody has to step up a little bit, whether it’s in the weight room, whether it’s in the classroom, just be a leader,’” Lachapelle said. “The team seems to be excited.

“I certainly don’t want one win next year, and I know they don’t want one win next year.”


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