LAKE PLACID - When Trevor Gilligan was playing hockey as a teenager at the Northwood School, the Saranac Lake native knew he wanted to someday coach the game.
Gilligan got that wish after finishing his playing career at college with the Oswego Lakers. After winning a NCAA Division III national championship in his senior season at Oswego, Gilligan returned to help out with Northwood's storied hockey program.
The Saranac Lake native is now moving on, and moving up, after a five-year run as a Northwood coach. Recently, the 28-year-old Gilligan became the nation's second-youngest head coach in the Division III ranks when he was chosen to lead the men's ice hockey program at SUNY Canton.
Head coach Trevor Gilligan stands alongside his Northwood lacrosse players during their game Wednesday against Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"Ever since I played hockey, I always thought about being a coach," Gilligan said. "It's quite an opportunity for me. The job opened up about two months ago, there were 60 other applicants, and I was fortunate enough to get that job."
Gilligan is taking over the Roos' head coaching job from Carl Michaelson, who spent the past season with the team. Prior to that, Canton native Pat Martin guided the team during a 13-year run that saw the program make the jump from junior college to the NCAA Division III level. Competing in the NJCAA, Canton's men's hockey earned 12 national championships. This upcoming season will be the second competing as an independent for the Roos, who are looking toward a future as a team playing in the SUNYAC or ECAC West.
"I think my North Country ties helped me get the job," Gilligan said. "I've been here at Northwood for five years; it's a proven program, I played at Oswego in the SUNYAC and I've been around hockey all my life. I'm more ready and confident than being overwhelmed."
Gilligan has been following in the footsteps of his father Mark, who led Saranac Lake's high school hockey program before retiring and has more than 50 years experience coaching the game.
"First and foremost, I think more than 20 years of talking hockey across the dinner table with my father has gotten me ready to take this step," Gilligan said. "I'll be finishing my year here at Northwood, and I'll start with Canton early this summer. The first order of business will be chipping away at recruits."
In addition to being behind the Huskies' hockey bench, most recently as the head of Northwood's midget team, Gilligan has also been the head coach of the prep school's girls lacrosse team. He will finish his coaching duties for the Huskies today when the girls play their final game of the season at home against Ogdensburg.
"It's a bitter sweet feeling leaving Northwood," Gilligan said. "I've had a great run here in both hockey and lacrosse while being a part of the development of students. It's been a great five years coaching at Northwood, and hopefully I'll have many more great years to come coaching at the college level."
When Gilligan is behind the Canton bench for its first game of the upcoming season, it will in a way mark a homecoming for the first-year NCAA Division III coach. Canton's first game will be played at the Olympic Center on Northwood's home rink, when the Roos tangle with Skidmore College on Nov. 2.