Paul Pooley returns for his 13th season at the University of Notre Dame as the team's associate head coach. He was named to the position on June 3, 2005, by head coach Jeff Jackson.
It is Pooley's second tour of duty serving as Jackson's associate head coach. During Pooley's first stint, at Lake Superior State (1992-94), Pooley was instrumental in the Lakers' success as they advanced to the NCAA finals three times, winning in 1992 and 1994.
In 12 seasons at Notre Dame, Pooley, along with Jackson and fellow assistant Andy Slaggert, has helped change the culture of Irish hockey. After a 13-19-4 first season, Pooley has seen the last 11 Notre Dame teams go a combined 255-148-48, win a pair of CCHA regular-season titles and three CCHA Mason Cup championships (2007, 2009, 2013) while advancing to the NCAA Tournament eight times (2007-09, 2011, 2013-14, 2016-2017), including three trips to the Frozen Four (2008, 2011, 2017).
Overseeing the Irish defense, Pooley has seen Notre Dame give up the fewest goals per game (1.67 in 2006-07), the fifth fewest in 2007-08 (2.13) and the third fewest in 2008-09, just 1.71 per game. At Notre Dame, he has been instrumental in 11 defensemen — Noah Babin (Carolina), Wes O'Neill (Colorado), Ian Cole (St. Louis), Kyle Lawson (Carolina), Teddy Ruth (Columbus), Joe Lavin (Chicago), Sean Lorenz (Minnesota), Stephen Johns (Chicago), Kevin Lind (Anaheim), Shayne Taker (Florida) and Robbie Russo (Detroit) — signing professional contracts. During that same time frame, Lawson was named a second-team CCHA all-star and the league's best defensive defenseman (2008-09); Cole was a first-team all-star in the same year while taking first team All-America honors and in 2011; Lorenz was honored as the CCHA's top defensive defenseman; and Johns was a second-team all-Hockey East choice. Russo was a first team All-Hockey East selection and went on to earn second-team All-America honors in 2015, while Jordan Gross earned Second Team Hockey East All-Star honors in 2016 as a sophomore. Gross earned Hockey East Honorable Mention All Star Honors in 2017. His teammate Dennis Gilbert was selected as the '47 Brand Best Defensive Defenseman while freshman defenseman Andrew Peeke was named to the Pro Ambitions All-Rookie Team and was the only defenseman selected for the team.
In making the announcement of Pooley's hiring, Jackson said, "Paul Pooley brings a certain level of integrity, work ethic and professionalism that I have great respect for. Our relationship in the past became a friendship, but our experience in the past will stay in the past. We're hoping to re-establish a new center of excellence similar to the one that we had at Lake Superior State together."
The veteran coach joined the Irish staff after spending 11 seasons (1994-2005) as head coach at Providence College. During those 11 seasons, Pooley's Friars were a combined 185-187-40, winning the Hockey East title in 1995-96 and appearing in two NCAA tournaments (1996 and 2001). The 2001 Hockey East and New England Coach of the Year and a two-time finalist for the Spencer Penrose Award as the national coach of the year, Pooley was instrumental in the development of four All-America players during his tenure at Providence — forwards Chad Quenneville and Devin Rask, goaltender Nolan Schaefer and defenseman Stephen Wood. Six players who played for him with the Friars — Hal Gill, Joe Hulbig, Fernando Pisani, Mike Farrell, Jon DiSalvatore and Schaefer — went on to play in the National Hockey League.
A 1984 Ohio State graduate (cum laude in accounting and marketing), Pooley got his start in college coaching at his alma mater, serving as an assistant to Jerry Welsh with the Buckeyes for three seasons (1988-91) following the end of his professional career. No stranger to the CCHA, Pooley was one of the conference's top players from 1980-84 and was a second-team selection to the conference's all-decade team of the 1980's. A three-time member of the CCHA's all-academic team, he took Academic All-America honors in 1984. A second-team all-CCHA selection in 1981, he also was selected as the CCHA's co-rookie of the year that season. Pooley capped his brilliant Ohio State career in 1984 as he was selected as the CCHA Player of the Year and Bauer's National Player of the Year, leading the nation in scoring with 32 goals and 64 assists for 96 points in 41 games. Selected first-team all-CCHA and first team All-America as a senior, Pooley is Ohio State's all-time leader in goals (114), assists (156) and points (270) and joined the Ohio State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994.
He became the first Ohio State hockey player to have his number retired on November 4, 2006 during a game between Notre Dame and the Buckeyes. A native of Exeter, Ontario, Pooley signed with the NHL's Winnipeg Jets following his collegiate career and played two seasons with the Jets' top farm team, the Sherbrooke Canadiens of the American Hockey League, playing on a Calder Cup championship team in 1985. He moved on to play one season with the Fort Wayne Komets of the International Hockey League where he was co-captain of a Komet team that won the 1987 regular-season championship.
In his three seasons as a pro, Pooley played in 15 NHL games with the Jets. He retired in 1987 to go into private business with his twin brother, Perry, also an Ohio State hockey All-American.
Pooley and his wife, Kelly, have two children: 23-year-old, Scott, who is a senior hockey player at College of the Holy Cross, and 20-year-old Taylor, who plays soccer at Ball State.