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Hayden Goethe, Published May 29 2012

Ex-Spuds player Cullen excited to take over as Moorhead boys hockey coach

MOORHEAD – To replace a longtime boys hockey head coach, Moorhead High School will go, at least for now, with a short-term solution.

The Moorhead School Board on Tuesday night approved the hiring of Pete Cullen as interim head coach for the upcoming season.

Cullen spent last season as an assistant to head coach Dave Morinville, who announced his resignation in April. Morinville had coached the Spuds to a 275-107-30 record over 15 seasons.

Cullen, 35, is a former Spuds player and 1995 Moorhead graduate. He said he enjoyed his one season assisting Morinville. Prior to joining the high school coaching ranks, he spent nearly a decade coaching at the youth level.

“It was enjoyable to teach the game at a higher level than youth hockey,” said Cullen, who is a cousin of ex-Spuds standout and current Minnesota Wild center Matt Cullen.

Moorhead activities director Don Hulbert said that the decision to fill the position on an interim basis was to give the program more time to determine the right direction over the long haul. The position will open again after the upcoming season.

“(It) was based on nothing more than that the time was short to make the hire to get someone in the position,” Hulbert said. “You want to spend enough time and make sure you’re doing justice to the program. We’re really trying hard to match a teaching position with that coaching position. That was the decider.”

But Hulbert said that Cullen – who owns and operates a flooring business for a living – could be the long-term solution too, even though he won’t be a teacher this coming school year.

That decision will be up to, among others, incoming activities director Dean Haugo. Haugo will start at Moorhead on June 25 as Hulbert transitions into retirement.

“Every coaching position is for one year anyway,” Hulbert said. “It’s not that big of a deal. If Pete Cullen feels good about that experience and so does the Moorhead School District, he would have a chance to stay too.”

Cullen – who will make $4,451 for the 2012-13 season – said he realizes how important the program is to the community and said he’s looking forward to getting started.

“I would love to meet some of my returning players and some of the young kids that are going to try out next year just to introduce myself and give them a few things that I will expect,” Cullen said.

Cullen said it has not been determined who will replace him on the Spuds coaching staff.

And while the job is an interim position, he does hope to be the long-term solution.

“I would love to continue being the head coach for as long as I can,” Cullen said. “I’m definitely not going into it as a one-and-done kind of season. But I also understand the interim label and respect that process.”

Readers can reach Forum Assistant Sports Editor Hayden Goethe at (701) 241-5558