Xpress Name New Head Coach

Santini, Former Assistant At DI Sacred Heart, Taking Over Behind The Bench

When the Southern Tier Xpress hits the ice at Northwest Arena for the 2017-18 North American Tier III Hockey League season, a new head coach will be at the helm.

The team announced the hiring of Lou Santini on Friday night on its social media accounts.

Santini will replace Brian Ramm, who coached the Xpress for the previous two seasons.

Southern Tier missed out on the NA3HL playoffs in both seasons under Ramm, compiling an overall record of 15-28-4 last season and a record of 8-35-4 in 2015-16.

In 2014-15, the Xpress went 26-21-2 under then head coach Rylan Galiardi.

Southern Tier’s newest coach will bring with him a wealth of coaching experience at multiple levels.

Santini spent 11 seasons as an assistant coach and recruiter for Sacred Heart University’s Division 1 program.

Lou Santini
Lou Santini

Prior to his tenure at Sacred Heart, Santini was an assistant coach for the Tulsa Crude and the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League. Before that he spent two years coaching in professional hockey from 2000-01, serving as an assistant coach for the Cincinnati Cyclones of the International Hockey League and the Augusta Lynx of the East Coast Hockey League.

Santini also served as an assistant coach for six seasons at Middlebury College. During that time Middlebury won five consecutive NCAA Division III national championships and had an overall record of 137-19-10. Santini first got into coaching as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Iona. Also during that time he was a high school assistant coach from 1990-94.

In addition Santini has served as a coach and instructor for the USA Player Development Program in Michigan, Minnesota and New York from 1990-2002.

Santini earned a bachelor’s degree in communication arts/broadcasting with a minor in speech from Iona in 1990. He was also a four-year letterwinner as a goaltender for the Gaels men’s ice hockey team.

“We went through a couple waves, we had a couple candidates,” Xpress general manager Travis Sanders said. “Some of them were from the college ranks and some of them from elsewhere. But in regard to Lou, I was actually at (USA Hockey) nationals (in Michigan in late March) scouting and recruiting and I ran into another scout on the scouting trail and mentioned … we were looking for a coach and he put me in contact with Lou. And things just kind of kept rolling forward from there.

“… Honestly, (his experience) is outstanding,” Sanders continued. “It’s exciting. It’s exciting for me, but more importantly, it’s more exciting for the players. Because talking about a guy coming in who has been there, done that, everything that they’re striving and reaching for … this guy has been there. He’s done it all, he’s been successful at several different levels. To know that a coach like that is coming in to help guide you in the right direction is an opportunity that a lot of players look for their whole career (and) they may not get the opportunity to play for somebody who has been there and done that.”

When it comes down to it, Sanders is looking forward to preparing for a new season with Santini leading the team on the ice.

“They’re are going to be more players looking to come and play for a guy like Lou and be part of the student-athlete driven commitment that we have as a program and moving players on to college-level hockey and higher-level juniors and climbing that hockey development ladder,” Sanders emphasized. “It’ll be good for the community, too. (Santini) is definitely community-service driven and committed and he knows that importance of that. He knows the importance of building young men. Community service and giving back is obviously a huge way to help players progress as young men.”

In addition to Sanders’ anticipation for the future of the Southern Tier Xpress program, Santini seems to be just as hopeful.

“My roots in ice hockey started in New York and the Southern Tier Xpress is well known throughout the state,” Santini stated. “The support of the community for the organization is very strong. I would like to create an environment where players can mature on and off the ice. They need to be student-athletes and also become involved in the community.”

According to Southern Tier’s official Facebook page, the team will hold tryouts at Northwest Arena on June 3-4. More information can also be found at the team’s official website: xpresshockey.com.

Original article by Cody Crandall, The Post-Journal.