Quinnipiac hockey coach Bill Riga is leaving for head coach job at Holy Cross

Former Quinnipiac associate head hockey coach Bill Riga, seen here in 2019, has been named head coach at Holy Cross.

Former Quinnipiac associate head hockey coach Bill Riga, seen here in 2019, has been named head coach at Holy Cross.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

Instrumental in getting Quinnipiac to two men’s hockey national championship games, Bill Riga has left Hamden to become head coach at Holy Cross.

“It is an honor and a blessing to be the next head men’s ice hockey coach at Holy Cross,” Riga, a native of nearby Westborough, Mass., said in the school’s announcement.

“My family and I are grateful and humbled by this amazing opportunity, and I can’t wait to get started creating relationships with our student-athletes, members of our campus community, and our alumni who love this program.”

Riga spent 13 seasons with the Bobcats under coach Rand Pecknold, the past seven as associate head coach. He was Quinnipiac’s recruiting coordinator.

His first class led Quinnipiac to a breakthrough run to the 2013 national final, where it lost to Yale. The Bobcats returned to the championship game three years later, falling to North Dakota.

Riga is the third Pecknold assistant, Quinnipiac said, to become a head coach in college hockey. Reid Cashman became Dartmouth’s head coach in 2020 after a four-year stint coaching in the Washington Capitals organization. Kyle Wallack is Albertus Magnus’ coach.

“We are thrilled for Billy and (wife) Kim,” Pecknold said in a statement. “He has been phenomenal at Quinnipiac over the past 13 seasons and was a key factor in our two Frozen Four runs and our 286 wins in 13 years. I wish Billy the best of luck at Holy Cross. He is an excellent coach, a great friend and he will be missed at Quinnipiac.”

Riga, who turns 47 later this month, played four years at UMass Lowell. He spent seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Boston Junior Bruins and five as an assistant at Union College before arriving in Quinnipiac in 2008.

He was also a member of the NCAA’s rules committee for men’s and women’s hockey for four years.

Onetime UConn coach David Berard had been Holy Cross’ coach. He resigned earlier this offseason to become associate athletic director for men’s and women’s hockey at Providence, his alma mater.

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; @fornabaioctp