Razorbacks announce leadership changes

Photo credit: Edward Matthews Photography


Razorbacks announce leadership changes

Fayetteville, AR — March 9 — Beginning with the 17-18 season, Coach Collin Hesse will return to the Razorback Hockey program as Head Coach of the Division III team.  Coach Hesse will continue to work closely with Coach Robert Thomas on practice planning, roster decisions, and team strategy.  Said Coach Hesse about his new role, “I am extremely proud to continue to work in this program.  I’ve learned a lot from Coaches Gallini, Desjardins, and Thomas the past several seasons and I’m excited to showcase that knowledge.”

Coach Hesse has served in a number of roles for the program over the past several seasons, including as a player (11-12), Club President (13-14 & 14-15), Student Assistant Coach (12-13, 13-14, 14-15), and Division III Associate Head Coach (15-16).  About his new role he added, “I intend for us to continue the success that the Division III team has had in recent years.” Coach Hesse is a 2015 graduate of the University and a Level III USA Hockey certified coach.  Meanwhile, Coach Robert Thomas will assume General Manager responsibilities for the Division III team while remaining in an on-ice assistant coaching role.

The Razorbacks are proud to also announce changes at the Division I level.  Longtime Associate Head Coach Rick Desjardins will move into a new role as the program’s first Director of Player Development.  Entering his tenth season with Razorback Hockey, Coach Desjardins has helped lead the Division III Razorbacks to five SECHC titles, a South Regional championship, and three appearances at Nationals.   He has been a key component of the team’s growth alongside its smooth transition to the Division I level.  In his new role, Coach Desjardins will focus on developing the program’s goaltenders while working throughout the season to identify and recruit future Razorback Hockey players by attending showcases across the country.  Coach Desjardins’ new position will also enable him to work with players from both rosters throughout practices and games alike.  During Coach Desjardins’ impressive tenure, the team has won over two-hundred games, earned five conference titles, and three trips to the Division III National Tournament.

Assistant Coach Justin McDowell will enter the 17-18 season as the Division I team’s Associate Head Coach.  The 17-18 season will mark Coach McDowell’s ninth season with the Razorbacks — 5 as a player and 4 as a coach.  During his playing career, the team won a total of 132 games and Coach McDowell personally earned third team All-Conference honors (2011-12), represented the Razorbacks at the ACHA DIII All-Star Challenge (2011-12), and was recognized on the SECHC Academic Honor List (2013-14).  As a coach, he has helped transition the program from its status as a Division III team to the first SEC school to field both Division I & Division III teams.  Said Coach McDowell, “I’m just excited for the opportunity that lies ahead.  I appreciate the added responsibility that comes with this new role and I am already looking forward to next season.”

The University of Arkansas is the only SEC school that fields ACHA teams at the Division I and Division III levels.  Current players represent sixteen different states, four countries, and nine different junior leagues.  All home games are played at The Jones Center for Families in Springdale.