Zech Klann is on the road on the Friday of Easter weekend. It’s a recruiting trip. The work of a great coach never ends.
Then again, he has good reason to hit the recruiting trail hard, even just a couple of days before Easter. His Salve Regina team just played for the national championship, falling 3-2 to St. Norbert in double overtime in the title game.
Because of that unbelievable run, Klann was named the USCHO coach of the year.
“It’s an honor to receive it,” Klann said. “It’s humbling, very humbling.”
For Klann, who guided the Seahawks to their best season ever with a 22-6-2 record in his first season as the team’s head coach, the year was a special one for a variety of reasons.
“My wife and I had our first child in January, and then to have the success that we did made it all the more special. It was an incredible year for me,” Klann said.
Klann wasn’t sure what to expect in his first season. He knew the potential was there for success. It was just a matter of figuring out what would work best for this team.
“I talked with the older guys to find out what they wanted to keep around tradition wise from the past and wanted to do things slowly with bringing in our systems,” Klann said. “For the leaders to buy into everything and show the younger guys that the changes made us successful, it says a lot about our team.”
There was adversity along the way. The Seahawks lost team captain Evan Schmidbauer and Shaun Patry to injury, which didn’t help in Salve’s quest to be a great team.
However, this team found a way. And that’s a credit to Klann, because good coaches figure out how to guide a team through adversity.
“Our team battled through a lot,” Klann said. “We lost two guys tear ACLs, two players who were very big pieces of our puzzle, and that’s not easy to overcome. We had to do a little bit of line shifting, and guys took advantage of their opportunities.”
Though the season ended without the national championship trophy, the loss did not overshadow all that this team accomplished.
“It was special to be on that stage with this team. It was a great opportunity for our players,” Klann said. “It was neat to see this team come together, and this is the closest team I’ve been on as a player or a coach. It was special to be a part of it.”
Next year could be special, too. His players are already looking ahead.
“We want the guys to stay hungry after getting a taste of a national championship run,” Klann said. “The goal is to have a good off season. Guys are already talking about being ready to go, being ready to work hard, and ready to get after the ultimate prize of winning a national championship.”