Iron Bridge boy at Northland

July 12, 2023

Shane Buckley has taken his hockey coaching career to his alma mater. The 33-year old Buckley, who hails from the village of Iron Bridge, which is about 70 miles east of Sault Ste. Marie along Highway 17, has been hired as the new head coach of the Northland College Lumberjacks. Northland is a Division 3, National Collegiate Athletic Association school that is based in Ashland, Wisconsin, a small town of about 8,000 residents on the shore of Lake Superior.

Buckley has spent the past several seasons as the head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers, a Division 1, American Collegiate Hockey Association team. Buckley was recently hired as the new head coach at Northland after impressing the school’s Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Dan Schumacher, in an interview.

Shane Buckley

“The selection process was extremely difficult,” said Schumacher. “There were so many qualified candidates that expressed interest. With that said, Shane came in with a detailed plan of action to lead Lumberjack hockey into the future. He has a passion for Northland College and the surrounding area, and his coaching and recruiting experience was exactly what we were looking for in a coach.”

Buckley, who graduated from Northland in 2013, returns after five seasons, four of which he spent at West Virginia. While there, the Mountaineers improved their record each year under his leadership, culminating in the program’s first winning season in nearly a decade during the 2022–2023 season.

Before attending Northland as a student athlete, Buckley was a goalie with the Blind River Beavers of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League. He also tended twine in the Greater Metro Hockey League with two teams that are now defunct — the Espanola Kings and Elliot Lake Bobcats.

A qualified school teacher, Buckley told Hockey News North that he is more than excited to be able to return to coach hockey at the school that graduated from.

“Oh for sure, I am very excited for the opportunity to coach at my alma mater. As an alum, I’ve made it a point to follow the team and see their progress from season to season and to keep track of the program. To be able to come back a decade after graduating and be a Lumberjack again is extremely special, and an opportunity that I don’t take for granted. I am excited to work towards establishing ourselves in one of, if not the best, conferences in NCAA D3 hockey,” Buckley relayed to Hockey News North.

Zack Briskey

Meanwhile, as he recruits for the coming season and the future, Buckley has already made contact with Bruno Bragagnolo, who is the president and general manager of the NOJHL’s Soo Eagles. In fact, one of the Eagles graduating forwards, Zack Briskey, has already committed to Northland for the 2023-2024 season. With good size at 6-foot-2, 200 lbs, Briskey skated in 99 NOJHL games for the Eagles over the past two seasons and totalled 18 goals, 28 assists, 46 points and 127 minutes in penalties.

“I am really looking forward to being in and around my backyard in northern Ontario looking for future players,” Buckley relayed to Hockey News North. “The NOJHL is a league that I plan on keeping a very close eye on.”

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