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Lock Monsters get a coach with a history of winning

Monday, June 15, 1998
Sun Staff 

LOWELL -- Frank Anzalone, who guided Lake Superior State to the 1988 NCAA hockey championship before embarking on a whirlwind coaching career that included a high school state championship, was introduced this morning as the Lowell Lock Monsters' first head coach.

The 42-year-old will lead the Lock Monsters, the top affiliate of the New York Islanders, into their inaugural American Hockey League season this fall.

Anzalone's coaching odyssey has included stops in The Netherlands, Michigan, Canada, Tennessee, New Jersey and Virginia. He's known as a taskmaster.

"I'm excited because we've got someone who's going to hold everybody accountable and that's what we were looking for," said Tom Rowe, the general manager of the Lock Monsters. "Frank has a passion for the game that I don't think anybody else has. He puts in 14-, 15-hour days. No one's going to outwork him."

Anzalone has spent the previous five seasons as the head coach of the Roanoke (Va.) Express of the East Coast Hockey League, a league one step below the AHL. Roanoke, affiliated with the Calgary Flames, made the playoffs every year during his tenure and this past season won the Northeast Division title with a 42-21-7 mark.

Anzalone took over the Express as an expansion team in a tough market and succeeded, compiling a 193-121-32 record. The Express, however, have never advanced past the second round of the playoffs.

This will actually be Anzalone's second stint as an AHL head coach. He coached the now-defunct Newmarket Saints, Toronto's former top affiliate, for one season. Under Anzalone, Newmarket went 26-45-9 and missed the 1990-91 playoffs. After coaching one year at Nashville of the ECHL, he led Toms River North to the 1992-93 New Jersey high school championship before taking over the expansion Roanoke franchise.

Anzalone, who spent six years at Lake Superior, was interviewed along with five other candidates: Brad McCrimmon, a former Boston Bruins defenseman who served as an Islander assistant coach last year; Ron Anderson, the ex-longtime coach at Merrimack College; Walt Kyle, an assistant coach with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks who was recently fired; Claude Noel, the head coach of the Kalamazoo Wings of the International Hockey League; and Don Nachbaur, the head coach of the Western Hockey League's Seattle Thunderbirds.

Mike Milbury, the head coach and general manager of the New York Islanders, also talked to Butch Goring, a former Bruin who serves as head coach of Utah of the IHL, as well as Bob Bourne, an ex-Islander forward who is Goring's assistant in Utah.

"We got good applicants," said Rowe. "(But Anzalone) clearly was the best candidate after talking to everyone. He's very energetic and very intense."

Anzalone played college hockey at SUNY-Buffalo and pro hockey in Erie, Pa., before traveling to The Netherlands to become a player/assistant coach..