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Damon Whitten embarks on his sixth season of directing the Lake Superior State men's ice hockey program in 2019-20, with aspirations of winning the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) regular-season title, the WCHA Playoffs, and securing a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
In 2018-19, Whitten led the Lakers to their most successful season since he became head coach. The Lakers (23-13-2, 16-10-2-0 Western Collegiate Hockey Association) won their most games in a season since 1995-96, recorded their longest winning streak since 1996-97 (seven games), swept Ferris State in a road series for the first time since 1993-94, swept Michigan Tech in a series for the first time since 1983-84, won 16 WCHA Player of Week and six WCHA Player of the Month awards, had four All-WCHA Team selections, 14 WCHA All-Academic Team honorees, five WCHA Scholar-Athletes, a Google Cloud Academic All-District® Men's At-Large Team selection, a Hockey Humanitarian Award nominee, two Hobey Baker Award nominees, claimed the first Great Lakes Invitational Championship in program history and captured their first-ever WCHA Playoffs series win. Diego Cuglietta finished as the national leader in goals scored (25).
Whitten, who was named the 10th head coach of Laker hockey on April 25, 2014, is highly respected among his collegiate hockey coaching peers and is known as an enthusiastic, tireless worker.
"It's a great honor to be named head coach of LSSU hockey," said Whitten. "Laker hockey has a rich and storied tradition. It will be our responsibility to rebuild this tradition in the manner that coaching greats such as Rick Comley, Ron Mason, and Jeff Jackson once did.
“Our job will begin immediately to reach out to alumni, fans, recruits, and the community during our quest to restore Laker hockey," added Whitten.
Prior to LSSU, Whitten served an assistant coach at Michigan Tech from 2010-14 and worked under several coaches who are familiar friends and rivals of Lake Superior State.
While at MTU, Whitten helped the Huskies implement a new fore-check, neutral zone defense and zone entries. He was responsible for in-game defensive matchups and academic performance, and assisted with all facets of practice, game preparation and recruiting as a member of head coach Mel Pearson's staff. During his first season (2010-11) at MTU, the Huskies enjoyed their best start since 1972 and claimed a berth among the 2011-12 Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five.
Before his stint at Michigan Tech, Whitten was an assistant coach at Alaska Anchorage for two seasons (2006-07 and 2007-08) on Dave Shyiak's staff after spending the two previous campaigns (2004-05 and 2005-06) at Wayne State under coach Bill Wilkinson.
Whitten spent two seasons (2008-10) as the director of hockey operations at Michigan State, working under two-time American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) Spencer Penrose NCAA Division I National Coach of the Year Rick Comley. His responsibilities included video work, budget management, travel coordination, and booster and alumni relations. He also served as a volunteer graduate assistant coach at MSU in the 2003-04 season.
A 2001 graduate of Michigan State, Whitten played for the Spartans under legendary and U.S Hockey Hall of Fame coach Ron Mason from 1997-01. He received a bachelor’s degree in communication from MSU and then earned a master’s in sports administration in 2005.
While playing at MSU, the Spartans amassed an impressive 122-28-20 overall record to go along with three Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) regular-season titles, three CCHA playoff championships, and two NCAA Tournament Frozen Four appearances. Whitten was an assistant captain of a senior class that owns the Spartans’ all-time highest win percentage. During his final season, MSU led the nation in goals-against (1.36) and penalty killing (.911).
Whitten accumulated 75 career points (35-40—75) in 166 games at Michigan State playing at the left wing position. A three-time academic All-Big Ten Conference At Large honoree, Whitten was also nominted twice for the NCAA Hockey Humanitarian Award. As a senior at MSU, Whitten was named the recipient of the Blue Line President's Award as the top scholar-athlete in the senior class and was presented the Amo Bessone Award for outstanding athletic, scholastic and community participation.
A native of Brighton, Mich., Whitten played two seasons of professional hockey in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). He skated the 2001-02 season at Greenville (S.C.) and helped the Grrrowl claim the ECHL's Kelly Cup championship title in 2001-02 by scoring 32 points (9-23--32) in 64 regular-season games and tallying five points (2-3--5) in 15 playoff appearances. The following season (2002-03), Whitten competed for the Arkansas RiverBlades, located in North Little Rock, Ark., collecting 39 points (12-27--39) in 69 games.
Whitten and his wife, Angela, have one son, Joseph, and one daughter, Flossie.