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After bringing the University of Rhode Island its first men’s hockey national championship, head coach Joe Augustine was named the 2006 American Collegiate Hockey Association Division 1 Coach of the Year.

This is Augustine’s second ACHA Coach of the Year Award and is the only coach ever to win the honor two consecutive years.

“This is not one person’s award,” Augustine said. “This is a reflection of all the coaches, management and players who made it possible.”

“[Joe] would be the first to say that winning is a team effort,” assistant coach Christian Rigamonti said. “He’s a good motivator and over the past five years if you see how much the hockey program has grown you’ll see that.”

Jeff Grace, a senior forward on the hockey team, said Augustine has been more than just the coach of a hockey team.

“He’s one of the best coaches in Rhode Island,” Grace said. “He’s been here for a while and he could have taken other jobs, but he stayed here because he believes in us and wants to see this program succeed. But he’s also an ambassador and does a lot outside of the sport, especially for the seniors. All in all he’s just a very good mentor.”

The 2005-2006 hockey season was a banner year for both URI and its men’s hockey program. The Rams amassed a 36-2-3 record and were named regular season champions of the American Collegiate Hockey Association and Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association.

URI was also ranked first entering the ACHA national tournament for the second consecutive year en route to defeating Penn State University 3-1 in the championship game.

Augustine finished his 17th season as head coach of the Rams and has brought over 25 years of playing and coaching experience to the program, compiling an overall record of 337 wins, 146 losses, and 31 ties. The men’s ice hockey team has never had a losing season under Augustine’s leadership.

Although winning awards does bring attention to a program that some hope will soon become an intercollegiate sport, Augustine and Rigamonti know that moving up to varsity status is something they can’t control.

“Winning awards [like Coach of the Year] doesn’t hurt, but we know decisions like this are out of our hands,” Rigamonti said. “We control what we control. We treat this sport like it’s a varsity sport and if we move up we’ll be ready for it.”

“It really has no bearing on any decisions,” Augustine said. “Coaching and playing is all we can do.”

Augustine will be presented with his Coach of the Year Award at the ACHA Coach of the Year Celebration on Saturday, April 29 at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club in Naples, Fla.