HANOVER, N.H. — Dartmouth College Director of Athletics and Recreation Harry Sheehy recently announced that a 2015 graduate of the college, Morgan Illikainen, will serve as the interim head coach of the Big Green women’s hockey program for the 2020-21 season. She replaces Laura Schuler, who stepped down from the post after three seasons behind the bench.
Illikainen (ill-uh-KAY-nen) spent two years on the coaching staff at her alma mater, joining the department in September of 2017. In her first season with the Big Green, she served under another interim head coach, Joe Marsh, as Schuler was coaching the Canadian Olympic Women’s Hockey Team to a silver medal. She remained on staff upon Schuler’s return, helping Dartmouth record five wins, none bigger than an overtime triumph over the defending national champion, Clarkson.
“I am so excited to return home to Dartmouth,” Illikainen said. “It is truly an honor to be given the opportunity to serve the program this season. As an alum, I feel a great responsibility of care for our tradition, history and continued success. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such an outstanding group of student-athletes, coaches, staff and the greater Dartmouth community.”
Prior to returning to Dartmouth, Illikainen spent a season as the hockey and lacrosse assistant at the Northwood School in Lake Placid, N.Y. Not only did she assist with planning, organizing and instructing all on-ice practices and lifts, she also helped with recruiting and had an active role in admission decisions.
A native of Grand Rapids, Minn., Illikainen graduated from Dartmouth with a degree in psychology and government. While wearing the green-and-white uniform, she played in 112 of the 121 games on defense as the Big Green posted a combined record of 56-55-10. Illikainen’s most successful season came in her senior campaign, scoring four goals and tacking on seven assists for a career-high 11 points while serving as an alternate captain. She also had three power-play goals during the season and provided the game-winner against Northeastern on New Year’s Eve before finishing her career with seven goals and 22 assists.
“I am thrilled that Morgan is willing to take on this important assignment,” Sheehy said. “She understands Dartmouth and Dartmouth Women’s Hockey inside and out, and she earned universal respect as a leader and mentor when she served as an assistant coach for the Big Green from 2017-19. I am confident the program is in great hands for the upcoming season.”
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Mark Hudak, Dartmouth Women’s Hockey Head Coach, 2003-2016
Two Ivy League Titles, three ECAC Hockey Titles, eight NCAA Bids, two NCAA Frozen Fours, 224 career wins
“I was very excited to hear of Morgan’s appointment as the Interim Head Coach for Dartmouth Women’s Hockey. Morgan was an outstanding player and leader on the team during her time as a student-athlete, and I know she did a terrific job as an assistant coach with the program. Her experience as both a player and coach with the team will serve her well. I am excited for her, the staff and, most importantly, the women with whom she will be working.”
Joe Marsh, Dartmouth Women’s Hockey Interim Head Coach, 2017-18
St. Lawrence Men’s Hockey Head Coach, 1985-2012
Two-time National Coach of the Year, seven ECAC Hockey titles, two NCAA Frozen Fours, 487 career wins
“While Morgan clearly has a great passion for Dartmouth and the women’s hockey program, I believe her greatest asset will be her ability to inspire the young women in her charge. She possesses a keen sense of empathy for the players and, as an alumna, a sound understanding of the rigors and uniqueness of the Dartmouth experience. Having worked with Morgan for a full season, I saw first-hand her organizational skills, her intellect and, more importantly, her ability to work with players, staff and colleagues in a relaxed and amicable fashion. I have no doubts regarding Morgan’s readiness to assume this position and I firmly believe Dartmouth has made a very wise choice in her hire.”