Boys hockey: Spaniol stepping down as Lourdes' coach
Josh Spaniol guided Rochester Lourdes to one of the most successful stretches in Rochester high school hockey history.
He guided the Eagles to a turnaround season that ended in heartbreaking fashion this year.
But the 3-2 double-overtime loss to Red Wing in the Section One, Class A semifinals in late February isn't the memory that will last with Spaniol, who resigned from his post as Lourdes' head coach on Wednesday morning.
"This past year was such a great group of kids," he said. "No one ever wants to stop coaching when you have kids like we've had. This year, we had some great kids who just didn't get a bounce at the right time. But they really made coaching a lot of fun."
Spaniol departs with a 121-99-8 record over eight seasons as head coach. In all, he has spent nearly a dozen seasons with the Lourdes program, first as an assistant under Bob Haskins then under Aaron Gill.
"We thank Coach Spaniol for his past 11 years of dedicated service and leadership," said Michael Brennan, Rochester Catholic Schools' Director of Schools. "We are extremely grateful for his time and the countless contributions he has so generously provided to our students and our school. We wish him the very best."
Spaniol was the one constant on Lourdes' bench from 2009-13, when the Eagles made Rochester history by becoming the first hockey team from the city to qualify for the state tournament in five consecutive seasons. He was an assistant coach on the 2008-09 team that reached state, then the head coach for the next four teams to win Section 1A championships.
"Those four straight state tournament teams ... you don't get those chances very much," he said. "You have to have great kids to do that and we've had so many great kids come through the program."
Spaniol is choosing to step away at a time where Lourdes appears to be in good position to challenge for more trips to state. Red Wing and Northfield — the teams that met for the Section 1A championship this season — are moving out of Section 1 next season, which leaves Lourdes among a small group obvious favorites to get to state from southeastern Minnesota.
"I've been thinking about this for a year," Spaniol said. "I had a really good conversation with (Lourdes Activities Director) Marv Peters. I appreciate everything he's done for me and how he's allowed us to grow and get the program to where it is."
Spaniol said he would like to spend more time with his children. His daughter Carley is a sophomore and his son Kaden, who was among the best Pee-Wee players in the state this season, is a seventh-grader. Josh will likely be a coach on Kaden's bantam team next season.
"(Coaching) here the past 12 years, taking time away from (my kids) and with work ... I need to give all those things a little more attention," Spaniol said. "It's the right time for me to step away and be a parent and a fan."