BOSTON — Wentworth Institute director of athletics Angel Ayres on Thursday announced the hiring of Jay Pecora as the head coach of the Leopard men’s ice hockey team, effective immediately. Pecora, who becomes the sixth head coach in program history, replaces R.J. Tolan who stepped down in June to become the head coach at Endicott College.
“I’d like to welcome Jay Pecora to our staff,” Ayres said. “His strong background as both a player and a coach as well as his passion for the game will no doubt be an asset to our ice hockey program. I am excited for him to instill his philosophy on our student-athletes and continue the program’s rich tradition.”
For the past four seasons Pecora has served as an assistant men’s coach at Southern Maine, where he helped guide the Huskies to an appearance in the ECAC East tournament each season, including reaching the semifinals in both 2011 and ’12. While at Southern Maine he was responsible for planning and implementing practice and game plans, assisted in player recruitment, developed strength and conditioning programs, and assisted in the monitoring of student-athlete progress.
Prior to joining the Huskies’ staff, Pecora co-founded the Portland Junior Pirates of the Atlantic Junior Hockey League. From 2002-08 he was a co-owner of the program and served as the director of hockey operations from 2002-09 and the program’s head coach from 2002-10. As the head coach he placed more than 60 student-athletes into NCAA collegiate programs and was named the head coach of the AtJHL All-Star Team during the 2005-06 and 2007-08 seasons and was the league’s coach of the year during the 2007-08 season.
A native of Stoneham, Massachusetts, Pecora played three seasons at New England College after spending a season at Plattsburgh State. He served as a three-year captain for the Pilgrims and scored 70 points (22 goals, 48 assists) in 66 career games. During his senior season (1996-97) he tallied nine goals and assisted on 19 others for 28 points. That season he was named an ECAC East/West All-Star and earned Division II/III Player of the Year honors from the New England Hockey Writers Association.
The 1997 recipient of the Parmenter Award, given to New England College’s top graduating male athlete, Pecora earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in 1997 and would go on to play professionally for five seasons, playing in Austria for one season and for four teams among three leagues in the United States. As a member of the Tupelo T-Rex of the Western Professional Hockey League, he scored 32 points in the 1999-2000 season and was awarded the off-ice leadership award. He concluded his playing career with a two-year stint as a member of the Amarillo Rattlers.
“I am excited to be named the head hockey coach at Wentworth,” Pecora said. “I would like to thank the search committee and the entire athletics department for this opportunity. I look forward to building the strength of the program and taking it to a new level of success.”
Pecora inherits a squad that finished 12-13-2 overall and advanced to the finals of the ECAC Northeast tournament for the fourth consecutive season. Since the 2000 season the Leopards have made 11 trips to the conference championship game, winning the league title and earning a berth into the NCAA Division III tournament in 2000, ’02, ’03, ’04, ’12, and ’13.