ST. PAUL — In a year where change has been the recurring theme around athletics at the University of St. Thomas, yet another change came to the Tommies’ women’s hockey program on Thursday.
In a brief statement, the school announced that Tom Palkowski, who had been with the St. Thomas program for more than two decades and had been the Tommies’ head coach for the last 14, will not guide them into their first season as an NCAA Division I program.
Former Hobey Baker winner Marty Sertich has been named the program’s interim head coach, and they are beginning a national search for a permanent head coach with their initial season as members of the WCHA women’s league just over four months away.
The Tommies were 6-2-0 last season in what turned out to be Palkowski’s last as their head coach. They finished first or second in the MIAC in 12 of his 14 seasons running the program, including holding the top ranking in the nation in 2019. Palkowski finishes with a record of 220-99-40 as the Tommies’ head coach.
Sertich, 38, just completed his fourth season as an assistant coach for Palkowski and, per the school’s press release, is taking over on an interim capacity. Originally from Roseville, he is the son of former Bemidji State women’s hockey coach Steve Sertich and won the Hobey Baker Award in 2005 as a junior at Colorado College.
The Tommies will be the eighth member of the WCHA women’s league in the fall. The conference has claimed 17 of the 20 NCAA women’s hockey titles, with Wisconsin winning the last two.