Neil Sinclair, a Middlebury graduate from the Class of 1993, has been named the head coach of the Middlebury men's hockey program. Sinclair comes to Middlebury from Skidmore, where he has served in the same role for the past 10 seasons. The former Panther All-American was Middlebury's interim head coach in 2002–03, after serving three seasons as an assistant coach for the recently retired Bill Beaney. Sinclair is just the fourth men's hockey coach at Middlebury since 1946.
"We are thrilled to have Neil Sinclair as the next head men's ice hockey coach at Middlebury College," said Director of Athletics Erin Quinn. "Neil's experiences both as a player and coach at Middlebury, along with his growth as a coach at Skidmore, have prepared him well to return to Middlebury. The student-athletes will benefit from his coaching expertise and leadership on the ice, in the classroom, and in the community."
"I am honored for this opportunity to work at Middlebury College and coach the men's ice hockey program," said Sinclair. "As a hockey alumnus, I know the history of the program and have a deep respect for the legacy built by Duke Nelson, Wendy Forbes, and Bill Beaney. I couldn't be happier about returning to the athletic department family as well as the Middlebury community."
Sinclair recently completed his 10th season behind the bench at Skidmore. In his second season with the Thoroughbreds, his team finished third in the ECAC East/NESCAC interlock and hosted a first-round postseason tournament game. Sinclair led the team to the ECAC semifinals three times and was named the league's Coach of the Year in 2006–07. He was also a finalist for the Edward Jeremiah Award as the National Coach of the Year.
While at Skidmore, Sinclair obtained his Master of Arts degree in 2011. As part of his master's work, Sinclair published a piece in The International Journal of Sports and Society titled "Building a Collegiate Athletic Leadership Model for NCAA Teams," which he wrote with Tim Harper and Jeff Segrave in 2014.
As a player at Middlebury, the senior defenseman was a first-team All-American and ECAC selection in 1993. He began his coaching career at Middlebury Union High School, leading the team to the 1996 State Championship.
He returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach from 1999–2002, serving as the team's interim head coach in 2002–03 while Beaney was on sabbatical. That season, Sinclair guided the team to a 22-5-2 record with a trip to the NCAA final four. The Panthers also finished first in the NESCAC and advanced to the league's championship game. Following the season, he was again named a finalist for the Edward Jeremiah Award.
The following season, Sinclair moved to Williams College, where he served as head coach of the women's hockey program for two seasons prior to arriving at Skidmore.
Sinclair is an active member of USA Hockey and has worked the National Festival at the 14–16 level for the boys and the National 14 Festival for the girls. He has been a speaker at USA Hockey Programs of Merit and numerous coaching symposia for the New England and New York districts. He has also served on the NCAA Regional Advisory Committee.
"I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead—the hockey tradition at Middlebury is second-to-none," added Sinclair. "I'm excited to work with the Middlebury student-athletes to write the next chapter in Middlebury hockey history."