The search for a new boys hockey coach at Armstrong High School has ended with the Falcons getting a piece of the 2012 Class AA state champions.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s assistant coach Danny Charleston has agreed to be Todd Weisjahn’s replacement at Armstrong, taking the job just two months after helping guide the Red Knights to a stirring finish to the 2011 boys high school hockey season.
Rocked by the tragedy of a spinal cord injury to sophomore Jack Jablonski’s in late-December, BSM rallied to win the AA title after racing by Hill-Murray 5-1 in the big school final this past March.
Along the way, the Red Knights also ended Armstrong’s season after the Falcons upset defending state champion Eden Prairie in the quarterfinal round of the Section 6AA tournament.
They would lose to BSM 5-0 the next time out, but by then, the program had garnered the attention of the Red Knights coaching staff, Charleston included.
“I really liked their team,” Charleston said. “They played with passion, and we didn’t beat up on them by any means. Hopefully I can come in and provide some energy and build on what they started last year by beating Eden Prairie.”
At the very least, the 27-year old Charleston said the plan is to have the Falcons play with the same type of energy his former team displayed in out-skating every opponent they faced down the stretch.
That means moving the puck, and their feet, at all times.
“I don’t play dump and chase hockey,” Charleston said. “This is high school hockey. These kids need to learn how to play the game with the puck. It’s going to be about speed and passing.”
Charleston has the pedigree to implement that type of style. He won a state championship as a sophomore at BSM in 2000, then headed to the United States Hockey League before eventually landing a scholarship at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
After college, he played minor league hockey in the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils organizations, before embarking on a professional stint in the Finish Elite League.
But after becoming a father for the first time, family dictated a different career path.
“I decided not to play and [BSM head coach] Ken Pauly called and offered me a chance to come back and coach,” Charleston said. “It is one of the best decisions I’ve made. I had a blast working with the kids over there, and I can’t wait to start getting to work with the kids at Armstrong.”
That will be much sooner than later, as summer training programs begin in earnest in the coming weeks.
“There is a lot to figure out still, but I’m ready to get going,” Charleston said. “I’m going to be involved. I want these players to know me, and know my expectations, by the time we get started for real next school year, and that process starts now.”