Robert Morris assistant men’s hockey coach Mike Gershon will be hired as the next head coach at Division III Chatham University, Pittsburgh Hockey Digest has learned.
Gershon, 35, has been an assistant at Robert Morris since 2015, spending the last five seasons working with the Colonials defensive unit under head coach Derek Schooley. The team made the Atlantic Hockey final four in each of his first four seasons there before the 2020 tournament was canceled.
Gershon told Pittsburgh Hockey Digest that he was busy recruiting for Robert Morris since the end of the season and was surprised by the opportunity at Chatham.
“I hadn’t thought about leaving Robert Morris and I’m really excited about the players that we recruited to come in,” he said. “So, for me, I wasn’t even thinking about that. … The opportunities to be a head coach at any college sport are few and far between. It was definitely something that piqued my interest.”
Gershon was previously the head coach of the Keystone (Connellsville, Pa.) Ice Miners of the NAHL in 2014-15, the Port Huron Fighting Falcons of the NAHL from 2012-14 and the New Mexico Renegades of the WSHL in 2011-12.
A native of Sparta, New Jersey, Gershon played college hockey at Division III SUNY-Brockport from 2005-09. A defenseman, he recorded 17 goals and 26 assists in 101 collegiate games. He went on to play professionally with the Port Huron Icehawks of the IHL and the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL before entering the coaching ranks.
“I played Division III, and I know what it takes to be a student-athlete,” Gershon said. “It’s just different than being a Division I student-athlete. But then I also know what it takes to be a Division I coach and we’re going to treat it like a Division I team or a professional team.”
Gershon will replace Michael Callan, who stepped down on March 3. Callan went 11-58-6 in three years as the Cougars’ inaugural head coach. After going 6-17-2 in 2018-19 with four wins in conference play, the Cougars slid to 3-21-1 in 2019-20.
“Coach Callan has done an incredible job getting the program off on the right foot,” athletic director Leonard Trevino said in a press release. “Because of his hard work, we have the foundation for a great team in place. We wish him the best of luck in his future. We are excited about taking the next step for the program.”
The Cougars, which are the only Division III team in Western Pennsylvania, play in the United Collegiate Hockey Conference against teams from Eastern Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland.
The men’s team was added in 2017, almost 20 years after the school’s women’s hockey program. Founded in 1869 as Pennsylvania Female College, Chatham became co-educational in 2014.
“The program is young, so there’s a lot of upside to it,” Gershon said. “The players are eager to show that their record doesn’t justify their performance. … They’ve got a lot of sports that do well at Chatham and they want hockey to do the same.”
Chatham’s roster features players from across the United States and Canada, but just four players of local progeny: former Bethel Park forward Jason Bauer, Latrobe forward Brendan Johnson, Westmont Hilltop forward Michael Lamison and Blackhawk defenseman Ben Oslick.
“Just like Robert Morris, if the kids in Pittsburgh are good enough and they want to stay home, we don’t want to let Pittsburgh talent get out of Pittsburgh,” Gershon said. “We want to go after some of the Division III kids from Pittsburgh and keep that excitement in the area.”
After a long time of staff stability, Robert Morris will need to find a new assistant for the second time in as many seasons. Schooley added RMU alum Ryan Cruthers when Kody Van Rentergem stepped away from coaching in 2019. Gershon had been promoted to full-time assistant in 2016 after Mark Workman took a scouting position with the Vegas Golden Knights.
“Five years and it was great,” Gershon said. “I got married, had a kid. I spent some really great years and had really great people that I worked with. Obviously, Derek was great, the late Mark Workman, Kody Van Rentergem and now Ryan Cruthers.
“I’m going to take some things from my time there, but I’m excited to put my own spin on things.”
CORRECTION: The Chatham women’s hockey team was founded in 1998, not 2007 as originally state.