January 23, 2012

Former Quinnipiac Men's Ice Hockey Head Coach Jim Armstrong Passes

James Armstrong's Obituary

Former Quinnipiac University men's ice hockey head coach Jim Armstrong passed away on January 21, 2012, from a brief illness. Armstrong would have been 69 on March 1. He was Quinnipiac's third head coach in the program's history.

"The entire Quinnipiac University community wishes Coach Armstrong's family our deepest sympathies," Director of Athletics and Recreation Jack McDonald said. "For 14 years, Coach Armstrong's coaching and leadership put Quinnipiac in an excellent position to transition our men's ice hockey program to the NCAA Division I level and ECAC Hockey. We are all very grateful for everything that Coach Armstrong has done for our student-athletes and Quinnipiac University."

  
Jim Armstrong
with the New Haven
Blades, 1963

Armstrong won 140 games during a 14-year coaching career at Quinnipiac from 1980 through 1994, making him one of two coaches in the program's history to win 100 games. During that span, Quinnipiac had a winning record in five consecutive seasons, beginning in 1984-85 and running through 1988-89. In 1985-86, Quinnipiac made its first postseason appearance as it faced St. John's in the first game of the ECAC Tournament. Armstrong also led Quinnipiac to the 1986-87 ECAC Tournament finals and the 1987-88 semifinals.

"The Quinnipiac University men's ice hockey team would like to offer our deepest condolences to the Armstrong family," head coach Rand Pecknold said. "Jim was a great coach that I was privileged to follow here at Quinnipiac. His work helped make Quinnipiac hockey what it is today. He will be greatly missed."

Armstrong's 1981-82 team broke the Quinnipiac record with 129 goals scored that season while the 1984-85 (146), 1985-86 (151) and 1986-87 (186) teams also topped the program's goals-scored record. In 1986,

Quinnipiac won a program-record 22 games during the 1986-87 season, while also scoring a program-record 185 goals. That record stood until the Bobcats' second year at the Division I level when Quinnipiac scored 195 goals in 1999-2000 and 2000-01.

Individually, 12 of Armstrong's players rank among Quinnipiac's Top-25 scorers of all-time, while eight – Russ Certo '82, Bill Verneris '82, Michael Barrett '85, Ed Muzyka '86, Richard Ciardiello '87, Richard Buckholz '88, Bob Serenson '88 and Todd Johnson '90 – have been inducted into the Quinnipiac Athletics Hall of Fame.

 
Picture (L-R): Armstrong poses with Richard Ciardello, Quinnipiac president John Lahey and Boomer the Bobcat at Madison Square Garden (March 1, 2003)

Armstrong also enjoyed a 11-year playing career that lasted from 1963 to 1974 that saw him play for the New Haven Blades, Long Island Ducks and Rhode Island Eagles of the Eastern Hockey League (EHL); the Toledo (Ohio) Blades and Saginawn (Mich.) Gears of the International Hockey League (IHL);and the  Seattle (Wash.) Totems and Salt Lake (Utah) Golden Eagles of the Western Hockey League (WHL).

ARMSTRONG REMEMBERED

"I am deeply saddened to hear of Jim's passing. It's hard to put into words how much impact he had on our lives.  For me personally, he was my coach, he was a colleague, and above all else, he was a friend. I loved running into him at the rink to watch Quinnipiac games or when he was there to watch his grandchildren play. All of us, who played for him, had such admiration for his warmth, kindness and concern for us as people.  His love and bond for his family was just so strong, and he treated all of us, his former players, the same way.  Today we lost a great coach, colleague, father figure, friend, husband, father and grandfather. I believe I speak for or all of my former teammates when I say that the hockey community,  Quinnipiac University,  and all of us who were fortunate to have been touched by this wonderful man, express our sincerest condelences to Judy and the family." - Former two-time Quinnipiac men's ice hockey captain and 1990 Quinnipiac Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee Michael Barrett '85

"Our extended Quinnipiac University Family, the hockey community and everyone that has had the privilege of meeting Coach Armstrong lost a great man today. He truly will never be replaced. It is easy to appreciate how great Coach Armstrong was behind the bench and how much he impacted the growth and development of the Quinnipiac University hockey program, the effects of which are still being felt today.  However, the true measure of Coach Armstrong is what he taught the players who were lucky enough to have played for him.  I had the honor of playing for Coach Armstrong during his glory years in the mid-1980s and, while many of us came away from that experience with personal accolades, what we truly gained from the experience were the things that Coach Armstong taught us off the ice. Jim was more than a great coach.  He was 'our coach' -  who not only led by example, but instilled in us the principals of a strong work ethic, personal integrity and commitment to not only the team, but to ourselves. Coach was always there for his players, constantly lending not only his support when we needed it, but providing the guidance we needed as young adults.  Coach Armstrong's strong and quiet personality did not require him to ever demand respect from us; instead he earned it through the life lessons he taught us every day we were with him.  Jim's passing has given me the opportunity to reflect on how much he influenced me and I want to thank him for being such a great Father-figure to all of us; a great coach to his players; and most of all, the greatest friend and mentor a young hockey player could ever have had.  My sincerest condolences are extended to Judy and the entire Armstong Family in the passing of this great man.  He will truly be missed." -Former Quinnipiac men's ice hockey captain and 2003 Quinnipiac Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Richard Ciardiello '87