Houle named new Clarkson University men's hockey coach

Posted 6/22/24

POTSDAM — The Clarkson Golden Knights have named the 12th coach in the history of the Men's Ice Hockey program, and he is one who needs little introduction to Green and Gold alumni and …

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Houle named new Clarkson University men's hockey coach


POTSDAM — The Clarkson Golden Knights have named the 12th coach in the history of the Men's Ice Hockey program, and he is one who needs little introduction to Green and Gold alumni and fans.  

Jean-François Houle '97 has accepted the position as The Leonard S. Ceglarski Head Men's Hockey Head Coach and will be back at his alma mater leading the Clarkson Golden Knights, announced President Marc P. Christensen and Director of Athletics Laurel Kane on Friday, June 21 during Clarkson's Alumni Reunion Weekend.  

"I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to return and coach at my alma mater. I am excited about the future of Clarkson hockey and eager to continue the rich history of the program."  said Houle.  "I am looking forward to becoming a mentor and instilling the Clarkson University values to the next generation of student-athletes. My family and I have forged some deep friendships within the community and we are happy to make Potsdam home again."

Houle returns to Clarkson after nine seasons in the American Hockey League (the NHL's top feeder program), the last three as the head coach of the Laval Rocket, Montreal's top development team. In his role with the Rocket, he has developed what many in NHL circles believe is the best corps of young talent in the league. In 2022, his team captured the Montreal region when he took the team to the Conference Finals.  

While with the Bakersfield Condors, the Edmonton Oilers top farm team, from 2015 to 2021, Houle helped develop a significant portion of the current Oilers roster that reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2024.

"We are thrilled to have Jean-François Houle, a Golden Knight alumnus well known around the hockey world, to be our next Leonard S. Ceglarski Head Men's Hockey Coach," said President Christensen. "His exceptional record in developing talent at both the professional level, combined with his deep connection to our University as a former player and assistant coach, makes him the ideal leader to drive our men's hockey program to a national championship."

Houle has a dual connection to Potsdam as a player and coach for the Golden Knights. He enrolled in the fall of 1993 as one of the most highly-touted recruits in the NCAA. A 1993 NHL draft pick of his hometown Canadians (99th overall pick), Houle made an impact right away, registering 25 points in his rookie campaign, which ranked him sixth on the team that season.  By his senior year, he and Todd White co-captained the team to the ECAC's regular-season title and a number-one seed in the NCAA Regionals. In total, Houle played 143 games with the Golden Knights, scoring 49 goals with 129 points overall, but most fans remember his devastating hip checks and his emergence as one of the best penalty killers in college hockey.  

"People who have been following Golden Knights hockey since we moved into Cheel Arena know JF was among the all-time fan favorites, who played every shift  as if it was an overtime in the national championship.  With work ethic, passion, loyalty and love for Clarkson hockey and the Potsdam Community, JF is the proven leader we need. He has a deep understanding of our program's values and a strong commitment to student athlete excellence both on and off the ice," Athletic Director Kane said.

After a pro career in the AHL and ECHL, Houle would return to Clarkson in 2003 as an assistant under new head coach George Roll. Houle quickly helped the Knights back into contention in the ECAC, as the Knights advanced to the ECAC Championship game in 2004 and then won the ECAC Championship title in 2007, as well as an ECAC regular-season title in 2008, with the team advancing to the NCAA Tournament in both seasons. In his years as assistant coach, Houle was an integral part of recruiting and developing a great corp of Clarkson All-Americans and professional players, including Steve Zalewski, Grant Clitsome, David Leggio, Nick Dodge, and Shawn Weller.  

Houle would leave Potsdam in 2009 to take over as Head Coach with the Lewiston Maineiacs of the QMJHL. After the team folded, he was immediately hired back in the greater Montreal region by the Armada of Blainville-Boisbriand in the "Q". In that position, he was named the 2012 Coach of the Year, and also was a finalist for the award in 2014.

JF and his wife, Mia, have been returning to Potsdam over the last year, as their son Noah is entering his sophomore year at SUNY Potsdam, where he is a member of the Bears' Men's Lacrosse team. Their eldest daughter Emma recently graduated from UC Santa Cruz, and they have a seven year old daughter, Lucy.  

The 2024-25 schedule has been released and season tickets will go on sale July 8th.  Fans looking for ticket information can email tickets@clarkson.edu.