Baldwin coach's roots enriched by USA Hockey

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

When Jim Brown received the call about being the next Baldwin ice hockey coach, it had been almost a decade since he was last behind the bench.

“Baldwin kind of brought me out of mothballs,” Brown said. “I had moved down south for almost 10 years and was out of hockey, sort of.”

Brown owns a construction business and moved to help rebuild communities after Hurricane Katrina.

“I helped rebuild several blocks in the Ninth Ward, and what not,” he said. “Spent some time in (Las) Vegas in between there.”

Brown also helped coach the Mississippi Sea Wolves of the ECHL. But he got his start in the late 1980s at Penn Hills before becoming involved with USA Hockey.

“There were some people that were part of the Steel City Stars organization, so they got me involved in travel (hockey),” Brown said. “I got involved with the USA Hockey side of things. I went to USA Hockey and made a name for myself.”

The height of Brown's tenure with the USA Hockey organization came in 1999 when he helped coach at the Select 17 national festival.

“That year, I was the only non-professional head coach in that tournament to my knowledge,” Brown said.

Since coming back to Western Pennsylvania, Brown has noticed the growth of the game's popularity.

“The level and the elements of hockey here has just grown immensely,” he said. “It's near equal to the Massachusetts and Minnesota (hockey).”

Brown guided Baldwin a 15-1 record at the PIHL all-star break, and a first-place position in the section standings.

But Brown strives to be better each day.

“He brings a lot to the practices. He knows how to play the game,” said Baldwin's senior captain, Anthony Alaimo, about the Highlanders' first-year head coach. “He just knows how to run hockey. When we're down, he corrects us and puts us on the right path.”

Brown coached the Northeast Conference open division team Sunday in the PIHL all-star classic.

The Northeast Conference team, which won a 4-2 decision, featured Alaimo at the forward position.

Dakota Becker, a junior forward at Baldwin, was an alternate for the Northeast Conference team.

Justin Criado is a freelance writer.

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