Cassidy was an assistant coach under Ron Rolston from 2006-2011 for the USA Hockey National Development Team Program team in Plymouth, Mich., Playing in the USHL. Cassidy followed Rolston to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League and became head coach when Rolston was promoted to coach of the NHL Buffalo Sabers in the 2012-13 season.
“[The NTDP was] the best learning experience I’ve had in my coaching career just in terms of working with top players and really being able to focus on developing those players during that time, ”said Cassidy, who helped the United States win two gold medals. and a silver medal at the U18 level and a silver medal U17.
What really motivated Cassidy’s love for hockey was growing up in Lake Placid and being a kid when the “Miracle on Ice” happened in the small town upstate of New York during the 1980 Winter Games.
“I was I think 7 or 8 years old during the ‘Miracle on Ice’ and I tell the story all the time,” said Cassidy, who played for Cortland (New York) State. “As a player, I think most kids grow up and want to play in the National Hockey League. And I’ll be honest with you when I tell you that my aspirations as a player have always been to play in the Olympics. Obviously, I never did, which is a very difficult thing to do. But for me, growing up in Lake Placid and witnessing the “Miracle on Ice” – my dad and grandfather actively participated in the Winter Olympics – and it was the most special experience of my life. “
When he returned to coach at Northwood, the school was playing in the same facility where the United States shocked the Soviet Union in the semifinals and beat Finland for gold. While Cassidy’s stories are still relevant today, the players he coaches now only have the 1980 film version to capture the drama.
“It’s nice to be able to talk about it all the time,” Cassidy said. “And although I’ve talked about it over the years, I never got enough of it because it was such a phenomenal experience and it was such a phenomenal time, not just in terms of winning hockey gold. male, but Eric Heiden won five gold medals and his sister [Beth] win medals [a bronze] and all the activity of the Olympics takes place within nine miles of each other in this little town in the Adirondack Mountains, which would never happen today. “
Now he coaches in Omaha and the USHL after leaving his hometown, and currently holds a playoff position in the Western Conference early in the season.
“In many ways it’s a lot harder to play in the USHL than to play in Division I [college] hockey, ”Cassidy said. “The ability to coach this level of players in a league that has very good coaches, to compete against these teams and these coaches every night is a great experience for us. And it’s a great development ground, not only for the players, but also for the coaches. So it was a lot of fun.