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Rivier University hires first women's ice hockey coach

Rivier University welcomes Chris Czarnota as Head Coach for its new Women’s Ice Hockey program.

Women's Ice Hockey Coach CzarnotaJoin us on October 29 for the Women’s Ice Hockey team’s inaugural game.

Rivier University has tapped Chris Czarnota as the first head coach for its new women’s ice hockey program. An NCAA Division III assistant hockey coach for the past five years, Czarnota joins Raiders Athletics with strong coaching experience and an impressive personal record as a D-III goalie. He will take the leadership role in building the University’s NCAA Division III women’s ice hockey program and fielding Rivier’s inaugural team for the 2021 season.

In mid-October, the University announced the addition of men’s and women’s ice hockey to its roster of athletic teams next fall, expanding to 15 intercollegiate teams. Men’s head coach Eric Sorenson was appointed last month, and the search now culminates with the hiring of Czarnota for the women’s program. Conway Arena in Nashua will serve as home ice for both teams.

“We are excited that Chris will be our first head coach in women’s ice hockey history,” says Joanne Merrill, Director of Athletics. “He brings a vast knowledge and championship pedigree with him, and his skills as a former NCAA Division III student-athlete are something that our women are going to learn from extensively.”

Czarnota has held NCAA Division III assistant coach positions for men’s ice hockey at Tufts University (NESCAC) and Norwich University (NEHC). In the past three years, he has helped lead the Norwich Cadets to two league play-off championships and two league regular season titles. He served as goalie coach for both the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams at Norwich. Last year, Czarnota was a goalie coach at the USA Hockey Select U15 Development Camp in New York.

Czarnota has a record of developing talent. He mentored last year’s Sid Watson Award, Division III National Player of the Year winner, who went on to set five NCAA Division III goalie records. He also mentored two NEHC Goalie of the Year selections.

“I’m looking forward to building this program,” says Czarnota. “Division III is special because the student-athletes are playing their sport for the love of the game. I understand this perspective as a former D-III athlete myself. I believe my devotion to the game and the players will fuel a successful women’s hockey program at Rivier University.”

Czarnota’s college hockey career began as a goaltender for Norwich University. Posting a record of 31-7-3 in 43 games played and 1.50 career goals against average, he is one of the most accomplished goaltenders in Norwich history, ranking third all-time with 10 career shutouts. He is a resident of Wakefield, Massachusetts, and holds bachelor’s degrees in Management and Accounting and a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Norwich University.

“Hiring Chris is a solid next step in establishing our ice hockey programs,” says Kurt Stimeling, Vice President for Student Affairs. “His commitment to building a culture supporting academic and athletic success and demonstrated coaching and mentoring skills will benefit our student-athletes and provide a strong foundation for our women’s ice hockey program.”

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions is actively recruiting student-athletes for the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams for the fall 2021 season. Students interested in learning more about playing ice hockey at Rivier University should contact Paul Brower, Vice President for Enrollment Management, at (603) 897-8516 or