At the helm of the University of Connecticut women's ice hockey program since its inception through the 2012-2013 season, Heather Linstadguided theHuskies to a 161-218-54 markin her 13 seasons behind the bench. Linstad led the Huskies to eight Hockey East tournament appearances over her past 11 seasons, including WHEA Championship appearances during 2009-10 and 2004-05. She mentored six student-athletes to major Hockey East awards, including Alexandra Garcia who received Player of the Year Runner-Up honors following the 2010-11 season.
Linstad has been a head coach for 21 seasons, spending the last 13 at UConn, collecting 161 of her 322 career victories with the Huskies. On February 13, 2010, with a 4-1 victory over Providence, Linstad captured her 300th career victory to become one of just six Division I women's ice hockey coaches to achieve 300 or more wins in their career. That win placed Linstad among the elite, as there are only seven head coaches in either Division I or Division III women's ice hockey to have won 300 or more games. She left UConn ranking sixth all-time in NCAA Division I wins in women's ice hockey.
In January 2012,Linstad served as the head coach of the U.S. Women's National Under-18 team at the IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic. Team USA cruised through gourp play with a perfect 3-0 record, while outscoring opponents, 28-1. In the semifinals, the Americans dismantled Germany, 7-1 before falling to Canada in the gold medal game.
Linstad began working with the squad during the USA Hockey Women's National Festival in June of 2011. The first competition for Linstad and the U18 team came as a three-game series against Canada held in late August, in which the U.S. team captured a 3-2 victory in the opening contest.
Linstad has also been a coach at the USA National Hockey Festival in Lake Placid, N.Y. five times, including the 1997 Festival which was an Olympic selection year. She has coached USA Hockey Junior Development Camps for athletes ranging from 14 to 18 years of age, while also taking part in the USA Rocky Mountain District Camp from 1996 through 2002 and again in 2004. Linstad served as the head coach of the Australian National Team in Sydney in July of 1996.
Linstad and the Huskies had an up and down season during 2010-11, facing one of their toughest schedules to date. Nine of UConn's games were against ranked opponents, including two against Minnesota Duluth, the 2010 national champion and three against Boston University, the 2011 national champion runner-up. Despite the tough regular season, the Huskies qualified for the WHEA Tournament for the fifth consecutive season.
During the 2009-10 season, the Huskies reached the highest national ranking in program history when they were ranked No. 7 for two-consecutive weeks, ending the season at No. 9 according to the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll. Connecticut spent 11 weeks among the nationally-ranked women's ice hockey programs that season, while they also spent eight weeks among the top teams during 2008-09.
Linstad and the UConn coaching staff guided the team to a 21-9-7 overall record and a fourth-place finish in the Hockey East standings during the 2009-10 season. The Huskies earned a place in the WHEA Championship game for the second time in program history, ultimately falling to NCAA Quarterfinal participant Boston University. Cristin Allen, Michelle Binning and Amy Hollstein all earned spots on the Hockey East All-Tournament Team, giving UConn the most number of honorees since joining the WHEA.
The 2008-09 season saw Linstad lead the team to its third-consecutive Hockey East Tournament berth with a 10-8-3 conference record. UConn finished the season with a 19-12-4 overall mark, that included a nine-game winning streak, during which the Huskies defeated eventual national runner-up Mercyhurst at Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum. UConn defended its Nutmeg Classic Title with its third-consecutive such championship, hosting Wayne State, Yale and Quinnipiac during the annual tournament.
Linstad mentored a trio of student-athletes to post-season recognition that season, with Cristin Allen and Dominique Thibault each earning spots on the All-Hockey East Second Team while Brittany Wilson garnered honorable mention accolades. Allen was also honored with a spot on the New England Writers' All-Star Team, becoming the sixth Connecticut student-athlete to do so.
In 2009-10, Allen followed with her second-consecutive such honor, becoming the first Connecticut player to earn a spot on the New England Writers' All-Star Team twice in their career.
At the time, it was arguably the most successful season in women's ice hockey history in Storrs, although the achievements of Linstad and her 2009-10 team challenged the 2007-08 squad that laid the foundation for success to come. The Huskies set a program-high for wins in a single season (22) and achieved the most number of Hockey East victories (13) in program history. En route to the nine-game winning streak that was tied in 2008-09, the 2007-08 Huskies won four games over nationally ranked opponents and set a plateau yet to be reached - an 11-game unbeaten streak.
In addition to the team accolades achieved throughout the 2007-08 season, two individuals were acknowledged for the contributions to the team. Dominique Thibault was named the program's first ever Hockey East Player of the Year and All-American. Jaclyn Hawkins became the team's first student-athlete to earn the Sportsmanship Award, capping off one of the most successful women's ice hockey careers in Husky Hockey.
During the 2006-07 season, the Huskies defeated or tied five of the eight teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament en route to their conference tournament appearance. UConn won 17 games, including 12 conference victories with four wins over nationally-ranked programs. All program-bests would last just one year though, as Linstad and the Huskies set new records the following season. Among a season of highlights, UConn was the only team to hand eventual Frozen Four participant, Boston College a pair of losses at home. Following a stellar rookie campaign, Hawkins was a record setter, creating new plateaus in career goals, assists and points and was one of four different Connecticut players to take hardware home from the 2006-07 Hockey East Banquet.
In a season hampered by injuries, the 2005-06 Huskies fell in the Nutmeg Classic title game a year after capturing the championship for the first time. UConn concluded the season with a 12-21-1 overall record that included a 10-11-0 mark in Hockey East action. Midway through the year, four Connecticut student-athletes were selected to the Hockey East All-Star Team, which was led by Linstad, that took on Team USA in an exhibition game.
The senior class of 2004-05 achieved one of their objectives, ending the year among the top 10 programs in the nation according to both the USCHO.com and USA Today/American Hockey Magazine polls after finishing the season with a 16-12-8 record. UConn put a cap on an 11-5-4 Hockey East regular season record en route to a third-place finish in the final conference standings. The Huskies advanced to their first ever appearance in the championship game, falling to defending champion Providence. Linstad's players garnered weekly awards from the Hockey East and USCHO for their play throughout the season, culminating in a variety of postseason accolades. Hawkins was named both the Hockey East and USCHO Rookie of the Year while also earning spots on the All-Hockey East Rookie and Second Teams. Netminder Kaitlyn Shain also earned a spot on the second team while Natalie Vibert received first team honors.
In addition to invaluable guidance on the ice, Linstad emphasizes success in the classroom and has mentored her student-athletes to achieve off the ice as well. Overall, 40 student-athletes have collected Hockey East All-Academic Team Honors over the past nine years. In 2004, a program-high 15 student-athletes were acknowledged by the conference for their academic prowess. Last season, Alexandra Garcia, Jaclyn Camardo and Nicole Camardo became three-time honorees, as nine Huskies have now earned All-Academic honors at least three times during their careers.
Lisa Beck was twice named the Top Student-Athlete by the conference, earning the highest grade-point average (GPA) among the league's defenders in 2004 and 2005. A highlight among Connecticut's academic achievements, Beck tied for the Top Scholar Athlete average with a 4.0 GPA.
In accordance with mentoring student-athletes toward success beyond hockey, Linstad has instilled a sense of community awareness within the women's ice hockey program at Connecticut. For the sixth-straight season UConn headlined the Hockey East's Breast Cancer Awareness fundraising program, Skating Strides Against Breast Cancer, raising $9,000 during the 2010-11 season. The Huskies continue to expand their impact on the conference-wide fundraising program and have raised well over $40,000 since the program began six years ago.
Expanding their community involvement has also seen the Huskies create a Christmas evening for a YMCA girls' home with Linstad's team supplying the tree, ornaments, lights and gifts while sharing pizza, in an effort to create invaluable memories. Most recently, the Huskies spent time painting rooms at a local community center and reading with students at Connecticut elementary schools.
A native of Chlemsford, Mass., Linstad came to Connecticut after compiling a 161-71-27 overall record at the helm of the Northeastern University women's ice hockey team for eight seasons. While at Northeastern, Linstad guided those Huskies to four Beanpot titles and earned one of the four berths to the first-ever collegiate Women's Ice Hockey National Championship Tournament (AWCHA) in 1998. Before that, Linstad guided Northeastern to the ECAC Championship in 1997 while boasting a then-school-record 27 wins.
Just prior to joining UConn, Linstad was inducted to the Chelmsford High School Hall of Fame in 2000.
Linstad, a 1989 graduate of Providence College, earned a degree in business administration while representing the Friars in three varsity sports. She was team captain for three of the four seasons she played on the women's ice hockey team, scoring 76 goals and adding 72 assists. Linstad is 16th on Providence's all-time career points list, 10th in goals and 18th in assists. She was awarded the 1989 ECAC Player of the Year Award and continues to hold the distinction of being the only individual to earn the ECAC Player of the Year Award and the ECAC Coach of the Year Award. In addition to her outstanding ice hockey career at Providence, Linstad played three seasons of soccer and spent a year on the softball squad.
Linstad currently resides in Vernon, Conn. with her black lab, Sydney.