MARQUETTE, Mich. — Northern Michigan head hockey coach Grant Potulny announced Byron Pool as associate head coach and Rob Lehtinen as assistant coach Saturday morning.
Pool spent the past seven seasons with the Fargo Force (USHL). He was elevated to associate head coach from assistant coach ahead of the 2014-15 campaign.
"Byron Pool has had sustained success in both the USHL and NAHL and won a championship as a head coach," Potulny said. "He has shown the ability to recruit and develop players to their full potential, helping many reach their goal of playing in the National Hockey League. His ability to connect with players is outstanding, and he will greatly enhance our team's performance on the ice and the experience our student-athletes have at Northern Michigan as a whole."
During his time in Fargo, the Force qualified for the Clark Cup playoffs four times. In 2012-13, Fargo was named the USHL's Organization of the Year and reached the Clark Cup finals.
Pool worked alongside three head coaches: Jason Herter (2010 to 2011), John Marks (2011 to 2015) and Cary Eades (2015 to present).
Before joining the Force staff, Pool was the head coach of the Bismarck Bobcats (NAHL) from 2008 to 2010. He led the Bobcats to the 2010 Robertson Cup and the 2009 Central Division title.
Pool spent his collegiate career at Colgate, skating in 76 games as a defenseman from 1996 to 2000. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in history, he went on to play four seasons of professional hockey, primarily for the Corpus Christi IceRays (WPHL/CHL) and Indianapolis Ice (CHL).
Potulny retained Lehtinen from the previous staff. Lehtinen started at Northern Michigan as the director of hockey operations/video coordinator in 2010 and was promoted to assistant coach before the 2014-15 season.
"Rob Lehtinen has a bright future in the game," Potulny said. "His tireless work ethic and intimate knowledge of the program and community makes him an excellent recruiter. I am extremely excited Rob will continue to contribute to the staff as he is a great asset to our program."
Lehtinen played for Northern Michigan from 2003 to 2007. During that time, the Wildcats advanced to three CCHA Super Six Championships at Joe Louis Arena and won 20 or more games three times.
A three-time team best defensive player award winner, he finished his collegiate career with 55 points (17g-38a) in 156 games. He is one of only 23 Wildcats to skate in at least 155 games and earned his bachelor's degree in community health and physical education with a coaching minor.
After wrapping up his collegiate career, Lehtinen spent three seasons with the Arizona Sundogs (CHL). He was a member of the 2008 Ray Miron President's Cup championship team.
(Pool photograph courtesy of mJoy Photography/Fargo Force)