UNH hockey head coaches Mike Souza, Hilary Witt sign 3-year contract extensions

Special to Seacoastonline
Portsmouth Herald

DURHAM — University of New Hampshire Director of Athletics Allison Rich announced Tuesday men’s hockey head coach Mike Souza and women’s hockey head coach Hilary Witt have each signed three-year contract extensions through the 2026-27 season.

The 2023-24 season was the sixth for Souza and 10th for Witt. Both teams had winning records for the first time in years.

Mike Souza signed a three-year contract extension on Tuesday to remain head coach of the University of New Hampshire men's hockey team. Souza led the Wildcats to their first 20-win season in a decade this year, and its 20-15-1 final record represented its best winning percentage (.569) in 11 years.

“The excitement surrounding our Wildcat ice hockey programs has reached a new level this season, and it stems from our amazing and hard-working student-athletes who have developed through the culture of success fostered by our dedicated head coaches, Mike Souza and Hilary Witt,” Rich said. “Building on that momentum and their leadership, we expect to compete for the best recruits and vie for conference championships while proudly celebrating UNH hockey’s tradition of academic excellence and athletic greatness.”

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Hilary Witt, who just completed her 10th season as head coach of the University of New Hampshire women's hockey team, signed a three-year contract extension on Tuesday.

On Monday, Souza was named a finalist for the Bob Kullen Award, given to the Hockey East Association Coach of the Year.

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The UNH men’s hockey team, which has been nationally ranked for 21 straight weeks, registered its first 20-win season in a decade and its 20-15-1 final record represented its best winning percentage (.569) in 11 years.

“UNH hockey has been at the forefront of every positive aspect of my life; I met my wife and made lifetime friends here, played for an NCAA championship and realized my dream of playing hockey professionally around the world,” Souza said. “But nothing has compared to the privilege of serving as the head coach of my alma mater. I look forward to coaching this group and building on all the steps the team has taken. The success of UNH hockey is an institutional endeavor. I'm grateful for the support of (Dr. Rich) and her commitment to returning our program to national prominence.”

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Witt was the runner-up for this year’s Hockey East Coach of the Year award. The Wildcat women’s hockey program rattled off four straight wins to conclude the regular season with 14 conference victories, their most since 2008-09, and the No. 3 seed in the Hockey East playoffs, their highest seeding since 2010. UNH's final record was 18-16-2.

UNH earned a first-round bye followed by a 3-0 shutout victory over Vermont in its first home quarterfinal game since 2013. In the semifinal at Northeastern, the Wildcats kept the game tied 1-1 until the Huskies netted a power-play goal with 1:45 left in regulation before tacking on two empty-net goals for a 4-1 decision.

“It has been an honor to be the head coach of the UNH women’s hockey program for 10 years, and my coaching staff and I are excited at the opportunity to continue leading these tremendous young women who proudly represent the university on and off the ice,” Witt said. “We're encouraged by the steps we took this season and are galvanized by the potential of what is to come in the years ahead. It is our unwavering commitment to develop student-athletes who compete for championships on their way to becoming pillars of their community as graduates and lifelong Wildcats.”