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Former Panther athlete returns as hockey coach

MIDDLEBURY — Ripton native and former Panther two-sport standout Brian Phinney has been hired to assist the Middlebury College men’s ice hockey program.
Phinney, a 2005 graduate who played on Panther hockey and lacrosse teams that combined for three NCAA Division III championships, returns to Middlebury from the Salisbury School in Connecticut.
There, Phinney served as the school’s director of financial aid and an assistant varsity coach in various sports for the past seven years. The four-year Panther hockey and lacrosse player graduated from Middlebury with a degree in history.
Men’s hockey Head Coach Neil Sinclair said he was happy to welcome Phinney aboard.
“I am excited to have Brian join the coaching staff,” Sinclair said. “His experience with and passion for Middlebury hockey and the community was obvious during our conversations. His role as an educator, working closely with student-athletes, and his commitment to excellence, both on and off the ice, offer further reinforcement that he is the right person to help us write the next chapter for Middlebury hockey.”
Phinney saw the move as a homecoming.
“I am thrilled about and grateful for this opportunity,” he said. “I have an enthusiasm for Middlebury hockey that was ignited when I was a young local fan watching the Alcindor brothers, Kent Hughes, Brent Truchon and all the other greats at The Duke. The support from the town, and all the great people within the community who make Middlebury athletics such a unique experience is truly a great thing. Coach Sinclair has always been one of my mentors, so I am excited to work closely with him for the upcoming years.”
While at the Salisbury School, Phinney held many roles in addition to his work with financial aid and hockey. He served as the co-director of the school’s Leadership Initiative, a dorm parent for six years, and the dorm head from 2013 to 2015.
Phinney served as the junior varsity lacrosse coach for seven years and was also the assistant varsity soccer coach from 2010 to 2012.
Phinney has also worked with USA Hockey for the past three years as a coach and evaluator based in Buffalo. He has also worked USA Select Festivals featuring the top 15- to 17-year-old players in the country.
He served as the Panthers’ hockey captain during his senior season and earned All-American laurels and Second-Team All-NESCAC honors. He was a finalist for the Joe Concannon Award, given annually to New England’s best American-born Division II/III college hockey player.
During his four years the Panthers claimed NCAA championships in 2004 and 2005 and three NESCAC crowns. Phinney has anchored the nation’s top defense as a senior, when the Panthers allowing 1.71 goals per contest. He concluded his career on the ice with 28 goals and 48 assists in 113 games played.
On the lacrosse field, Phinney was a long-stick midfielder for the Panthers, who claimed the 2002 NCAA championship and four NESCAC titles during his four years. He started 56 career games for Middlebury.
Following graduation from Middlebury, Phinney played two seasons of professional hockey for Hammarby IF and one year for the Nybro Vikings in Sweden. He earned his master’s degree in sports management in 2010 from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

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