Corbett states his case to take over at UAA

Doyle Woody
Bill Roth

Asked Monday night how he expected to revitalize UAA's moribund hockey program should he become its next bench boss, Mike Corbett answered with a baseball analogy.

It's unrealistic to believe in the likelihood of an immediate and dramatic transformation -- swinging for the fences, as it were -- but Corbett said the long ball isn't the only way to reach home.

"We gotta hit singles, we've got to drive in runs,'' he said.

Corbett, 41, the associate head coach at Division I Air Force, was the first of four finalists for the opening as the Seawolves' head coach to arrive on campus, meet with school officials, players and staff, hockey alumni and, finally, the public in an open forum.

Corbett is a former University of Denver defenseman, junior hockey head coach and youth administrator who vowed he would not be outworked in either recruiting, mapping the details of the game for his team; getting Seawolves hockey once again threaded into the community's fabric and rebuilding a relationship with UAA hockey alumni.

"Ultimately, you've got to go out and outwork people, and build some bridges in the community,'' he told a gathering of several dozen.

Corbett's background reflects his driven nature -- he earned two degrees, bachelor's and master's, from Denver while raising a family and playing the sport he loves.

Corbett told the gathering he wasn't there to tell them what they wanted to hear, but what they needed to hear: Recruiting to UAA will be a challenge, as it is at Air Force, but he's ready to go after talent, especially local players, and will be a tireless recruiter; UAA's facilities are not great, but plenty good to compete; and current Seawolves are beat down but can rediscover a winning attitude.

"You've got to see the sparkle in their eyes,'' Corbett said.

Corbett said his recruiting strengths are geared toward the U.S. Hockey League and North American Hockey League, and that while his contacts in Western Canada, long a principal source of Seawolves recruits, are not as strong, they'll gain more muscle in short order.

Developing a strong defensive team possessed of speed and tenacity, one that "keeps everyone on the edge of your seat all night long,'' is one of Corbett's on-ice aims, he said.

After 10 seasons under head coach Frank Serratore at Air Force, which has played in the NCAA tournament five times in the last seven seasons, Corbett said he believes he is prepared to lead one of just 59 Division I hockey programs.

"I've paid my dues,'' he said. "I've worked my butt off. I feel I'm ready for it.''

UAA's job became open when Dave Shyiak last month was fired after eight seasons. The Seawolves are coming off a 4-25-7 season that included a second straight last-place finish in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Next to arrive in town among the four finalists is former UAA assistant coach Damon Whitten, currently an assistant at Division I Michigan Tech. Whitten will go through the same drill as Corbett, with his public forum set for 7-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Lucy Cuddy Dining Room on campus.

Former UAA assistant coach Chris Brown, head coach at Division III Augsburg College in Minneapolis, will have his visit on Monday, with a public forum that evening -- same time, same location. Rounding out the finalists will be Gary Heenan, whose visit is scheduled for Wednesday, May 1, and will likewise include a public forum.


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