Bell lands ‘dream job’ at Minnesota

The assistant coach comes to the Gophers after five years in the NHL.

New assistant hockey coach Scott Bell poses for a portrait in Mariucci arena on Tuesday, June 20.

Jack Warrick

New assistant hockey coach Scott Bell poses for a portrait in Mariucci arena on Tuesday, June 20.

Jack Warrick

After winning two consecutive Stanley Cup trophies, Scott Bell took an offer to return to Minnesota.

Bell, a Gophers alumnus and former scout for the Pittsburgh Penguins, was named Minnesota’s new assistant coach on June 12.

Penguins Director of Amateur Scouting Randy Sexton said he told Gophers head coach Don Lucia that Bell is a team player.

“Bell loves the Penguins, but there are two things he loves more than the Penguins: number one, his family, and number two, the Golden Gophers,” Sexton said. “This guy would think nothing of driving five hours to a [United States Hockey League] game to get in the car after the game and drive home.”

Bell replaces Grant Potulny, who was named the head coach at Northern Michigan in April.

Bell worked as an amateur scout for the Pittsburgh Penguins for the past five years, helping the team win the Stanley Cup in 2016 and again this year.

“[Bell] checked all the boxes for what I was looking for,” Lucia said in a statement. “He’s a relentless recruiter, a successful coach, and he is well respected.”

Becoming a coach

Before he worked with the Penguins, Bell was the head coach at Hamline University, a Division III school, for five seasons from 2005-11, taking them from a 4-18-3 record in his first year to a 17-7-5 record in his final season.

“At Hamline, I turned a program around that was dead last for 30 years,” Bell said. “Part of the reason I went to Hamline and took over Hamline was to show that I can coach.”

During that period, Hamline won the MIAC conference title twice, after finishing last and second-to-last in Bell’s first two years.

Bell started his coaching career with the Fargo-Moorhead Ice Sharks of the USHL after seven years of playing in the minors himself.

As a player

Bell was a two-time captain of the team he now coaches.

He played from 1990-95 with the Gophers, enjoying two Frozen Four runs.

Sexton said those who watched Bell play thought he wasn’t the most talented player on the ice; however, Bell still had success with the team.

“If you’re a two-time captain of the Gophers and you’re not that talented, and you go to two Frozen Fours in your five years there, you’re doing something right,” Sexton said.

Bell tallied 81 points on 41 goals and 40 assists during his collegiate career.

Returning to the Gophers

Minnesota went 23-12-3 overall last season, winning the Big Ten regular season conference title for the fourth season in a row.

Forward Casey Mittelstadt — projected to go sixth in this year’s NHL Draft by mynhldraft.com — will be joining the Gophers next year, along with the rest of the 2017-18 freshman class. Bell said the returning players are a strong group.

“They have some nice freshmen that are coming in,” Bell said. “I would say we should be a top-five, top team in the country.”

Bell currently lives in Edina, Minnesota with his family, continuing his hockey career in his dream job.

“I feel very fortunate to go from the best in the NHL, in the world, and then jump into the best in all of NCAA hockey,” Bell said.