KINGSTON, R.I. — November 28, 2017 — University of Rhode Island men’s hockey coach Joe Augustine won his 600th game in late October, but you may not have heard about it because Augustine doesn’t toot his own horn.
Shortly after URI’s win over Niagara University Oct. 27, he sat down to talk about the accomplishment.
“Like any win, this one was important as we continue to improve and push toward the national playoffs,” the Scituate resident said. “But we always say, you are only as good as your next win. I’ll probably reflect on this when I retire, but right now it’s a nice reflection on our staff, players and alumni.”
Instead of talking about himself, Augustine credits his success over the past 29 years to Christian Rigamonti, a former star player, and team staff member for 20 years and who is now the general manager, and Jon Hendricks, who is now in his fifth season as assistant coach. He even has high praise for the team bus driver, Abel Raposa, who has been at the wheel for 22 years. And, of course he praises his hard-working players.
“All the guys are great students,” Augustine said. “Last semester, the team had a 3.2 overall grade point average. But we know they can do the work because it’s tough to get into URI and tough to make the team.”
URI competes in top the division of club hockey as members of the American Collegiate Hockey Association and the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League. The team plays 40 games a season, starting in September and ending in March.
During his career, Augustine coached the Rams to an ACHA Division I national title in 2006, and was named ACHA Division 1 Coach of the Year in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. He was the ESCHL Coach of the Year in 2003-2004 and has 27 total winning seasons.
This season the Rams are 10-8-1, which puts Augustine at 605 wins, 288 losses and 61 ties. The Rams are ranked number 25 nationally.
His 605 wins put him among the winningest Rhody coaches of all time, including legendary Frank Keaney, who posted 693 victories as Rhode Island’s basketball, football and baseball coach. But even Keaney, who is enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, had only 401 victories in hoops. As far as wins in a single sport, former volleyball coach Bob Schneck, who retired last year following a 36-year run with the Rams in 2016, had 618 career victories.
Augustine is proud of his membership is such an exclusive club, but added that his 600th win was an accomplishment for the men’s hockey program.
“We are surrounded by great people, friends and supporters,” said the former Boston College star and member of the Eagles Hall of Fame. “I am deeply grateful to Art Tuveson (former URI assistant director of athletics) for bringing me here and to Jodi Hawkins (director of Campus Recreation) for her unwavering support.”
Augustine said during his nearly three decades he has benefited from great senior leadership, including his two captains this year, Max St. Sauveur and Mike Pesola.
St. Sauveur, of Saunderstown, and Pesola, of Coventry, have great respect for their skipper as well.
“I have had a different career than most guys,” St. Sauveur said. “I started here in 2008, joined the Marines and came back in 2014. “Coach has always been a great guy, and when he learned I had returned to URI, he asked me to come back and serve as a coach. But when we had some injuries, I asked him if I could return to the team as a player, and he said, yes.
“Coach pushes us to be our best,” the combat veteran said. “He is tough, but fair.”
Pesola said Augustine encouraged him in all phases of the game.
“He pushed me to become a leader, and he drove me hard on the ice and in the gym to improve,” Pesola said. “It is a privilege to part of this team and to play for this coach.”
Augustine resumes his quest for his next 100 victories when the Rams take on the U.S. Naval Academy, Friday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 2 at 4 p.m. at the Boss Arena.