Zack Cisek, begins his second season as an assistant coach for Laker hockey in 2019-20.
“We're very excited to add Zack to our staff and he comes to us very prepared for this opportunity,” said Whitten. “One of the things, as we went through this process, that stood out is his time in Division I hockey with two really great programs. (Zack’s) developed a skill set that we believe will have an immediate impact on our program.”
Cisek joins the Lake State bench after spending the last year as an assistant with Notre Dame under the tutelage of college hockey icon and former LSSU bench boss, Jeff Jackson. As the head coach from 1990-96, Jackson lead the Lakers to six-straight NCAA Frozen Four appearances with two NCAA Titles (1992 & 1994).
“Zack did an exceptional job for our program last year,” said Jackson. “He is a quality person and a bright young coach. I am confident that he’ll do a great job for Damon. I’m excited for Zach and proud that he will start his coaching career, as I did, with the Lakers.”
As a member of Jackson’s Fighting Irish staff, Cisek was responsible for goaltender development, practice planning, individual film sessions and postgame film analysis and player evaluation.
“Obviously (Jackson) means a lot to Lake Superior, college hockey and the sport in general,” Whitten said. “He does a tremendous job at Notre Dame and other places he's been, to develop young coaches within the organization.
He talked a lot about how much room he gave Zack to build his experience and skill set. We really took to heart what he had to say about how prepared Zack was for this opportunity.”
During his lone season in South Bend, Cisek was a part of a UND team that won the Big Ten Regular Season and Playoff Championship, appeared in the Frozen Four and came up just short of an NCAA Championship falling to Minnesota-Duluth, 2-1, in the title game.
Individually, Ciskek was instrumental in guiding Irish goaltender, Cale Morris, to one of the most successful season’s in program history. The sophomore was the 2018 recipient of the Mike Richter Award, which goes annually to the top goaltender in country. Morris was also a Hobey Baker Award Top 10 Finalist and Big Ten Player of the Year.
Prior to his stint with the fighting Irish, Cisek spent two seasons (2015-17) as a graduate assistant with the University of Miami (Ohio) serving under head coach Enrico Blasi where he assisted the staff with day-to-day operations, opponent scouting and film analysis, on-ice skill sessions and player evaluation. Cisek completed his Master’s Degree in Kinesiology & Health in August, 2017.
With three goaltenders presently on the Lakers roster (Nick Kossoff, Mareks Mitens and Roman Bengert), Cisek’s arrival at LSSU is expected to pay immediate dividends in the net as well as the defensive side of the puck. Cisek will also have a key role in recruiting, video analysis and game plan development for the Lakers.
“I am ecstatic and grateful for the opportunity to join the rich tradition of Lake Superior State Laker Hockey,” said Cisek. “First and foremost, I would like to thank (LSSU President) Dr. Rodney Hanley, (Director of Athletics) Dr. David Paitson, Coach Whitten and Coach York for welcoming me into the Laker family. I look forward to working with a knowledgeable staff, passionate student-athletes and being a part of the Sault Ste. Marie community.”
As a player, Cisek was a goaltender for Michigan State from 2013-15 where he was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection with the Spartans and was also named to the Dean’s List three times. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology.
Cisek, a Canton Mich., Native, also spent time with the NAHL’s New Mexico Mustangs, Michigan Warriors and Traverse City North Stars. He played high school hockey at Detroit Catholic Central, where he served as team captain and was part of two state championship teams. He earned first-team All-State honors during his senior season (2009-10).