Pat Norton is in his seventh season at the helm of the Tufts University men's ice hockey program. Now with a roster recruited to Tufts by Coach Norton and his staff, the Jumbos are poised for success in the challenging New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).
An emerging Jumbo team showed its talent in 2019-20. Tufts upset Trinity College - the #1 team in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll at the time - by a 4-2 score in January. They also earned a 4-2 win against the Wesleyan squad that eventually won the NESCAC Championship. Both victories helped the Jumbos double their conference victory total over the previous season.
Tufts qualified for five straight conference tournaments from 2015-19, the longest run of NESCAC berths by the program since the Jumbos joined the league in 2001. The 2017-18 team posted a victory against conference semi-finalist Williams, while a 2-2 tie against an Endicott team that was ranked #2 nationally at the time also stood out. In 2016-17, Tufts’ 9-8-1 conference record matched the program’s best since joining the NESCAC league.
Norton's Jumbo teams have featured some impressive athletic and academic recognition earned by his players. In 2016, goalie Mason Pulde achieved Academic All-America® honors as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Pulde also led NCAA Division III netmiders in save percentage that season with a .947 mark. Defenseman Sean Kavanagh was a two-time semi-finalist for the Concannon Award, presented annually to the best American-born college hockey player in New England at the NCAA Division II/III level. Ten players earned 2020-21 NESCAC All-Academic Team honors with GPA’s of 3.5 or higher.
Community service is also an important part of Coach Norton’s Tufts program. The Jumbos are involved with Team IMPACT, which works to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses by pairing them with collegiate athletic teams. Tufts has Team IMPACT teammate Caeden McGondel on its roster and hosts a game in support of the organization annually. The 2018-19 team raised awareness for the East Coast Jumbos, an organization whose goal is to provide a positive athletic and social experience for athletes with Autism and other developmental disabilities through hockey. Tufts also annually joins league opponent Connecticut College for weekend games in support of Green Dot, which aims to reduce peer-based personal violence.
With over 20 years of coaching experience at the collegiate and prep school levels, Norton was hired as the head coach of the Tufts University Men's Hockey program in August 2015. In his first season he guided the Jumbos to a competitive 10-10-6 finish in NESCAC. The team advanced to the conference semifinals with an upset victory of #1 seed Williams College. Tufts also won Castleton's Rutland Herald Invitational that year.
A 1996 graduate of the University of New Hampshire, where he was a member of the hockey team, Norton began his coaching career as an assistant at Division III power Norwich University from 1996-2000. During his tenure with the Cadets, he was an integral part of three NCAA "Frozen Four" teams including the 1999-2000 squad which won the national championship. Norton moved on to assistant coaching positions at the Division I level with the University of Vermont from 2000-2003 and at Northeastern University for the 2003-04 season. While playing a key role in recruiting at all three of his previous collegiate stops, Norton developed a strong national network of contacts in the sport.
For 11 seasons from 2004-15, Norton was head coach of the hockey program at the Tilton School in New Hampshire. Members of the New England Prep Schools Interscholastic Hockey Association (NEPSIHA), Tilton competes at the highest level of prep school hockey. During Norton's tenure, the Rams were Lakes Region champions in 2010 and 2011 as well as New England Small School semi-finalists in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
Norton has also been a USA Hockey New England District Coach and Evaluator since 1998.