Longtime AIC head coach Gary Wright is stepping, sources tell College Hockey News, and an announcement could come as soon as today. Army assistant coach and AIC alum, Eric Lang, is the favorite to replace Wright, who has been at the helm of the program for the past 32 years, taking over the job in 1984.
Ed. Note — AIC announced the move on Thursday.
“My time at AIC has been enormously enriched by the people I’ve worked with on campus, our assistant coaches and the players I’ve coached. And by my coaching colleagues on the other bench,” Wright said. “It has often been said that playing college hockey helps make college the best four years of your life. For me, that association extended to nearly forty years [32 years at AIC]. I only wish that my record had been better. Otherwise, it has been a wonderful run, with few regrets.”
Wright began at AIC the same season Red Berenson began coaching at the University of Michigan. They are the two longest-tenured active coaches at the same school. The 76-year-old Berenson is mulling retirement as well, and said earlier this week he wants to take some time to consider his future.
Prior to taking the head coaching job at AIC, Wright was an assistant at Maine from 1979-84. Wright played four seasons at Vermont from 1973-76.
AIC finished 7-29-3 this season. The program has not posted a winning record since 1993. Both the KRACH and Pairwise had the Yellow Jackets ranked No. 60 out of 60 schools this past season.
Wright was Coach of the Year in the first season of the MAAC, 1998-99, leading AIC to an 11-14-4 record.
This past winter, AIC was also awarded the Atlantic Hockey Team Sportsmanship Award for the third consecutive season and fourth time overall under Wright’s guidance.
AIC’s Athletic Director Matthew Johnson said, “Gary Wright has done things the right way for 32 years. He recruited students of high character and prepared them to be productive members of society after college. He has mentored hundreds of players, instilling sound moral and ethical principles on a daily basis through his own actions. Gary is well respected on campus, within the Atlantic Hockey Conference and throughout the country. He has been a tremendous ambassador for the game of hockey and American International College for more than three decades. We will deeply miss Gary and wish him nothing but health and happiness as he enters a new chapter of his life.”