Notre Dame-Fairfield ice hockey coach Marty Roos inducted into CHSCA Hall of Fame

Notre Dame-Fairfield ice hockey coach Marty Roos admits he's much more comfortable in a frigid skating rink than at a cocktail party, even if he's surrounded at the time by family, friends and collegaues.

Roos was nervous during the reception, which was held Nov. 19 at Aqua Turf before a dinner to induct him and nine others into the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

He admitted that to everyone about an hour later, as he gave his induction speech at the dinner.

"It's the most nerve-racking thing I've ever had to do in all my years of coaching because I'm sitting down there and I don't know when it's going to be my turn," Roos said from the podium. "I'd rather be preparing for a hockey game."

In a sport where head coaches can live in relative obscurity, Roos is its most popular figure. Roos is entering his 20th season as head coach of the Lancers, and before that, he spent 19 seasons at the helm of Fairfield Prep. In those 38 seasons, Roos's teams have compiled a 511-275-18 record, and has the most career wins in state history.

"In my 39 years of coaching I've had a lot of great highs and a lot of great experiences and I've met a lot of wonderful people," Roos said. "Coaching is a mind-cleansing thing for me. I don't think about anything else when I'm on the ice, and I enjoy myself so much."

Roos, who owns the Milford Ice Pavilion (Notre Dame's home rink) and Northford Ice Pavilion in North Haven, started coaching at Fairfield Prep in 1971, and helped build the foundation for the most successful ice hockey program in CIAC history.

In 1977, Fairfield Prep defeated Cheshire 4-3 to win the Division II state championship.

The following season, Cheshire defeated Fairfield Prep for the Division I title, but the next three seasons would be ruled by the Jesuits.

Roos led Prep over Cheshire for the 1979 Division I championship, and followed that up with a 1980 title over Amity and the 1981 title over Hamden.

Roos stepped down as Prep's head coach in 1989, and was coaxed out of retirement by Notre Dame-Fairfield, which had struggled after making a jump from Division II, in 1991.

Roos helped Notre Dame to its first Division I title in 1999, when the Lancers defeated New Canaan in a five-overtime thriller that was played over a two-day period at Ingalls Rink at Yale University.

Roos would again hoist the championship trophy in 2006, when Notre Dame defeated Hamden in the championship game.

In 2007 and 2008, Notre Dame lost to Fairfield Prep in the Division I title games.

Roos was inducted into the Notre Dame-Fairfield Hall of Fame in 2001, and in 2006 the CIAC state tournament was named in his honor.

"I'm very blessed. I've had a lot of good players and there are a lot of great people behind the scenes," Roos said. "I just wanted to be a wheel that helps makes the machine go. I have a lot of little wheels behind me, and they have faith in me and the way I operate."

At 74, Roos shows no sign of slowing down. For one, the kids keep him young, and Roos said he enjoys helping young men become successful, whether they go onto become coaches or go into the business world.

Roos has two former players, Rob Bleggi (1993) and Dan Heenan (2000), on his staff, and said he hopes when he decides to finally retire, that one of them will pick up the torch.

But when he does call it quits, he'll miss the highs and lows of coaching, whether it's a state-championship win or a devastating loss.

"There is nothing worse than when you come home at night and you lost a tough game and you can't go to sleep," Roos said. "My wife will ask me `what's the matter, you didn't have a great day?' And I'll tell her `I had a great day, we just didn't have a good day on the ice.'"

So what advice would Roos have for anyone who wants to enter the profession of coaching? Probably the same advice he's given his players all these years.

"I always tell my kids to enjoy the ride, because you only go through here once," Roos said.