Dick Umile coaches his final regular season game Saturday night. The University of New Hampshire men's hockey coach is retiring after this year - his 28th season. He is known as the winningest coach in UNH hockey history. Fans, and especially his players - know him for his whistle.
That was Umile speaking earlier this week with UNH Sports Insider Allen Lessels about the whistle - and how it helps the coach be "into the game."
If you want to hear that whistle ... the puck drops at 7 tonight (Feb. 24) at the Whittemore Center, when the Wildcats host Northeastern.
It's also Senior Night. Graduating players will be given a proper send-off. And then, there's more appreciation for the guy behind the bench. It's Coach Umile Commemorative Pin Giveaway Night.
UNH celebrated “Coach Umile Weekend” two weeks ago. There was a Dick Umile Bobblehead, of course. The coach shared a laugh when asked about that promotion. The big recognition came as he was presented with the Hockey East Founders Medal -- becoming only the second coach to receive the honor. Bigger, still, was the outpouring of former players, the fans, and his family. For more than three decades, hockey and family were one and the same - interwoven. In his retirement, Umile says he looks forward to spending more time with his loved ones.
Umile says he's treasuring the highs and lows of his long career - and this season. The team is now 5-13-5 in the Hockey East standings, and 10-17-6 overall. The Wildcats have lost several close games this season. And in an interview, Umile keeps circling back to how proud he is of his players - how, to a man, they have demonstrated grit and stuck together.
It's clear he'd prefer to talk up his players ... Senior Night, after all, is special, he says. Still, after 28 seasons--the coach began this year with a record of 586-353-108--Umile recognizes the milestones and appreciates a full career in hockey.
In a tribute video by UNH Productions for the Umile weekend celebration, UNH President Mark Huddleston referred to the coach as an institution. "He's sort of like T Hall - you can't imagine UNH without Dick Umile. Although, I guess we're going to have to start putting our heads around that."
That same video featured a few hockey highlights for a career that includes four Frozen Four appearances, 18 NCAA tournament appearances, eight Hockey East regular season championships, and two Hockey East tournament titles. Here is Umile talking about that tribute and video by Ben Gilbert: