Just a little more than a month after Eden Prairie boys’ hockey coach Lee Smith coached his final game for the Eagles, EP is now looking for a new girls’ hockey coach to go along with the boys’ vacancy.
On March 31, Shakopee announced that former Eagle coach Jaime Grossman would be taking over the Saber program via Twitter. Grossman had been with EP since taking over prior to the 2011-12 season.
The move comes as Grossman recently took on a new full-time job in the Shakopee school district starting this past fall. The district is where his family lives, and his daughter plays mite hockey in the Shakopee youth hockey association. Grossman also serves on the association’s board.
“It was a move that made sense for a lot of family reasons,” Grossman said.
Grossman took over the program following a successful tenure from Tim Morris that saw the Eagles win state championships in 2006 and 2008, the first in school history.
After a slow first season, EP made it to consecutive state tournaments in 2013 and 2014. In 2016, the Eagles captured their third state title in overtime against Maple Grove. EP went on to qualify for two more state tournaments in 2017 and 2018 under Grossman’s tutelage.
“I’m very grateful for my time in EP,” Grossman said. “I learned so much from (former activities director) Nancy (Schmitt) and Mike (Grant).”
Besides team success, Grossman has overseen some of the best to put on an Eagle uniform. There are numerous examples, including defender Crystalyn Hengler, who currently stars on the blue line for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Naomi Rogge was one of the state’s top scorers at EP and went onto Minnesota-Duluth.
In net, Grossman’s top two goalies were arguably McKenzie Johnson, who starred at Clarkson University in New York, and Alexa Dobchuk, who spent last season backstopping the inaugural Div. I season for St. Thomas women’s hockey.
Grossman’s final season with the Eagles was certainly a struggle based on the standards of his tenure. They finished with a 10-17 record and bowed out in the section semifinals to eventual state runner-up Minnetonka.
As of yet, Grossman’s replacement has not yet been announced. The new coach appears to have some work to do. Each of the Eagles’ top point-getters from last season — Presley Pergande and Dani Benson — graduate this spring.
“I have a lot of hockey connections that I still value and players who I will always care deeply about,” Grossman said. “It was tough to say goodbye, but it was the right move.
“I’m really excited about the new opportunity.”