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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Power Play: UA Hockey Coach Chad Berman set to take team to new heights

File Photo

Arizona hockey head coach Chad Berman skates during a practice open to fans on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014. This will be Berman’s second year as head coach for the Wildcats.

Wrigley Field, an iconic ballpark located on the north side of Chicago, is known for its ivy-filled walls in the outfield, apartment seating and historic Wrigleyville neighborhood just outside the friendly confines of the park. 

This is where Arizona hockey head coach, Chad Berman, used to make a living. 

Berman could be found performing covers of popular songs in the middle of Wrigleyville before and after Cubs games. 

Berman’s decision to move to Chicago to become a singer and songwriter came after his hockey career was cut short due to medical reasons. 

He first laced up his skates at 5 years old and had no idea where his hockey career would lead him. Berman said he was more of a “late bloomer” growing up, which meant he was more of a grinder type player. 

“I’ve always had to work harder than my talent possessed,” Berman said. 

His big break came when he was 19 years old, as he landed a spot on a Junior A team in Toledo, Ohio. Scouts in the North American Hockey League took notice of Berman’s progression as he elevated himself from a “40-point guy to a 100-point guy.”

“It was a big deal for me to get in to that league. It was the elite league at the time, it was compared to the [U.S. Hockey League],” Berman said.

After stints with two teams in the NAHL, Berman moved on to play college hockey at NCAA Division III school, SUNY-Fredonia. 

It was just one season into Berman’s college career when he found out that he had a heart condition, which resulted in his decision to step away from the game and pursue his music career. 

Just when Berman thought his hockey career had finally closed, a coaching position opened at Robert Morris University-Illinois. 

“I thought, ‘Well I’d like to do something I enjoy,’ so I took the opportunity to coach,” Berman said. 

While at Robert Morris, Berman was an assistant coach specializing in working with defensemen and helped in player development and recruiting. 

Before arriving at Arizona, Berman helped guide Robert Morris to a No. 2 ranking and second-place finish in the American College Hockey League Division I finals. The team lost to ASU. 

Ironically enough, ASU coach Greg Powers hinted at a possible head coach opening at Arizona to Berman while they were at the national tournament. 

“When the job posted up, I was ready and prepared to attack, if you will,” Berman said. 

The rest is history. 

Berman and the Wildcats finished their first season together in 2014-2015 with an 11-22-3 record, a disappointing season for many. 

Moving forward, Berman is ready to implement a culture of winning at the UA. In upcoming tryouts this week, Berman will be looking for committed individuals to join the team. 

Berman says the weakness of last year’s team was its defense, but this year that will be one of its strengths due to its five new defensemen. 

“All are high-caliber players, but first and foremost they are high-character kids. That’s where we need to start; we need to build a foundation to build off of,” Berman said. 

With the new additions to the team and Berman’s emphasis on winning, he believes the team will make substantial strides from last season. 

“We think we are a significantly better team,” Berman said. “We expect to be in the national tournament. We expect to do some damage.”

Now, fully engulfed in coaching at the UA, Berman is committed to putting the best product of hockey out on the ice and to pack the Tucson Convention Center Arena as frequently as he can with 6,000 fans. 

That does not stop him from thinking about his unpredictable journey from the streets of Wrigleyville to Tucson.

“Here I am living in the desert, coaching hockey. Part of me is not sure how this happened, but I’m definitely grateful for the opportunity here and excited to go to the rink every day,” Berman said. “It’s a good way to earn a living.”

Follow Seth Pines on Twitter.

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