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Thorold native named new McGill men's hockey coach

Coming off a three-year stint as an assistant coach with the American Hockey League's San Diego Gulls, David Urquhart is no stranger to McGill, having played there and served as an assistant coach
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David Urquhart has been appointed full-time head coach of the McGill University men's hockey team.

A 2018 inductee to the McGill Sports Hall of Fame, Urquhart has spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach of the San Diego Gulls, an American Hockey League affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. During that span, he helped guide the team to a 92-60-17 record in regular season play and three playoff berths.

The 36-year-old native of Thorold, Ont., becomes the 30th bench boss in team history and the 13th former McGill player to take the helm of the historic 144-year-old program, which played its first game on Jan. 31, 1877.

He replaces Liam Heelis, who was serving as interim bench boss.

"We conducted a national search and we're very pleased to welcome Dave back for his third stint with the program," said Geoffrey Phillips, executive director of McGill Athletics and Recreation. "His experience and leadership in winning championships at both the university and the professional levels, will no doubt further enhance our tradition of excellence, both on the ice and in the classroom. I would like to sincerely thank Liam for leading the program through a very challenging period."

Previously, Urquhart played for McGill and served four years as a full-time assistant coach under the direction of Kelly Nobes. He also was head coach of the Serbian national team at the 2018 IIHF Div. 2 world hockey championship.

"I'm proud to be part of a McGill hockey tradition that has been integral in the development of student-athletes for such a long time," said Urquhart, who graduated from McGill's Desautels school of management in 2008, majoring in finance and entrepreneurship. In 2019, he completed a master's degree in sports psychology at McGill. For his thesis, he interviewed six of the most successful coaches in U Sports and the NCAA to discuss their coaching vision and learn how they built cultures of excellence to win multiple national championships for their respective programs.

"The pandemic has provided the program an opportunity to reset and begin a new era with a new name and vision," added Urquhart. "This vision will build upon the culture of excellence and traditions that were cultivated by the coaches that came before me. I look forward to rejoining the team and connecting with the recruits, student-athletes and alumni."

During his McGill playing career, Urquhart was a three-time OUA all-star from 2004 to 2008. He also merited All-Canadian honours -- earning a berth on the second team in 2006-07 -- and concluded a brilliant university career with 23 goals and 107 points, along with 330 penalty minutes, in 147 games overall.

More than a dozen years after his last varsity contest, he remains tied with Mike Babcock as the ninth-highest overall point-scoring defenceman in McGill history. He trails Marc-André Dorion (192 points), Dominic Talbot-Tassi (190), Gilles Hudon (152), Martin Routhier (135), Ryan McKiernan (117), David Bahl (110), Bryan Larkin (109) and Luc Latulippe (109).

Named to the OUA all-rookie squad during his freshman year, Urquhart won the Bobby Bell Trophy as Team MVP in his third collegiate season and then went on to captain McGill to a Queen's Cup championship in 2008, the team's first league title since 1946.

Fluent in three languages -- including French and Italian -- Urquhart was a two-time OUA conference nominee for the Randy Gregg trophy, awarded nationally for combining hockey ability with academics and citizenship. He made the Principal's Student-athlete Honour Roll, merited Academic All-Canadian honours, won the Richard Pound Trophy for athletics leadership over his McGill career and received the University's prestigious Gretta Chambers Award for student leadership.

Urquhart went on to a solid professional career, including stints in the AHL with Hartford (2008-10) and Hamilton (2010-11), where the six-foot, 195-pound rearguard played 130 regular season games, scoring six goals and 23 points to go along with 78 penalty minutes. He also had stints in the East Coast Hockey League with Charlotte and Wheeling. He then headed overseas to play for three years in Italy, where he patrolled the blueline for teams in Valpellice (2011-12) and Pontebba (2012-13) before guiding Ritten-Renon to a league championship in 2014.