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Jack Arena has carved a stellar career on Amherst hockey bench

Geoff Bolte/Clarus Studios Inc
Jack Arena is in is 36th season at Amherst.

Thirty-six years after his hire as the men’s hockey coach at his alma mater, Jack Arena is still behind the bench at Amherst College as the second-longest tenured Division 3 hockey coach in the country.

After his graduation in 1983, the Randolph native had planned to serve as an assistant coach at the college while taking graduate courses at the University of Massachusetts. His senior year, Arena was the Division 3 Hobey Baker recipient as the best player in the nation.

But when the head coach resigned that August, Arena accepted the position on an interim basis.

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“I was 22 years old when I started coaching here. Now I’m coaching sophomores who are 22,’’ recalled the 58-year-old Arena, who was a three-sport athlete at Milton Academy.

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His Amherst teams have made three NCAA Championship appearances, and Arena was named Division 3 National Coach of the Year in both 2012 and 2015. His career record is 472 wins, 345 losses, and 74 ties — including a 9-6-4 record this season entering games this weekend.

Arena, who also played baseball at Amherst, has been the college’s varsity golf coach for 26 years. He and his wife, Diane, an Amherst grad whose father, Tom Flaherty, was the former athletic director and coach at Milton Academy, have four children.

He has coached son Patrick with the college’s hockey team, and son John with the golf team. Arena’s 92-year-old father, Tony, a former semipro hockey player, still resides in Randolph and drives himself to Amherst home games and some road contests. “Dad is pretty amazing,” said the coach.

Arena said the best part of coaching “is my interaction with the players and the opportunity to teach them, and also a way for me to still compete and stay involved, engaged, and passionate about what I do.’’

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com