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Year in Review 2011: Norwich picked to lead East Ridge girls hockey program

Craig Norwich, a former Minnesota state champion, NCAA title holder, gold medal winner and longtime NHL player took the reins of the East Ridge girls hockey program in 2011.

In 2011, East Ridge hired its third head girls hockey coach in three years. However, none had the resume of Craig Norwich.

Norwich, a former Minnesota state champion, NCAA title holder, gold medal winner and longtime NHL player, learned how to coach from legends like Bob Johnson, John Mariucci and Herb Brooks.

Norwich played 15 seasons of professional hockey in the NHL and Europe.

In the NHL, he played for five teams over five years between 1979 and 1984, totaling 75 points in 104 games as a defenseman. He also played for Team USA in four different World Ice Hockey Championships, winning a gold medal in 1983. In high school, he was a member of three consecutive state tournament teams at Edina, and was captain of the Hornets 1974 state championship team. In college, he was a two-time All-American at Wisconsin, where his team won the 1977 NCAA championship. He holds three WCHA records, is a member of the Wisconsin Hall of Fame, and was named to the WCHA Top-50 Player list.

Norwich, 56, has led hockey programs across the country for the last 20 years. After retiring from professional hockey in 1990, he created and directed the esteemed Shattuck-St. Mary's School in Faribault.

"I like new things and new programs," Norwich said when hired at East Ridge. "I've always been someone who likes to start programs from scratch --that's kind of been my history, to build programs. I believe there is potential everywhere. I'm not afraid of building things. I don't mind just being able to do my thing and take the kids and make them better."

Prior to taking over East Ridge, Norwich, who lives in St. Paul, coached Edina 14U "A" girls hockey, guiding his teams to a state championship in 2010 and a state consolation title in 2011. He has also led AAA hockey teams in Colorado and California and was the Director of Hockey at St. Paul Academy for five years.

East Ridge was 9-11-6 in a cooperative with Woodbury in 2009-10 and 6-20-1 in its first year as a solo program last year.

To help him out in year No. 1 at East Ridge, Norwich brought in some talented assistant coaches - former South St. Paul standout Tim Fink, goalie coach Meryl McGovern and fellow former NHLer Tom Younghans. Younghans played 429 games for the New York Rangers and Minnesota North Stars between 1976 and 1982. He also played for the University of Minnesota and represented the United States at the Ice Hockey World Championships in 1976, 1977 and 1978 as well as the 1981 Canada Cup tournament.