DUBUQUE, Iowa — Dubuque Fighting Saints associate head coach JB Bittner has accepted the position of assistant coach with the Ohio State University Buckeyes hockey program. He will join the Buckeyes’ coaching staff for the 2017–18 season.
Along with the departing head coach/GM Jason Lammers, Bittner helped coach a Dubuque Fighting Saints team with an overwhelming majority of newcomers to the Eastern Conference Final. Bittner coached the defense, who allowed the second-fewest shots against per game (24.65), and the special teams units, who finished the regular season with the league’s second-best power play (21.6%) and seventh-best penalty kill (85.7%).
“After seeing the Dubuque Fighting Saints from the inside, there is no surprise as to why they have been so successful,” Bittner said. “The job that the ownership group has done to build an elite organization is impressive. Everything about the Saints culture—coaches, trainers, office staff and billet families—is first-class and extremely professional.”
“I’m fortunate to have spent this past season as part of that culture.”
The Fighting Saints, under Bittner’s watch, went 36-17-7. Those 36 wins were a mark that the organization has hit for three out of its seven seasons.
“JB was an invaluable contributor to the success we achieved this year,” said Brad Kwong, the Managing Partner of Northern Lights Hockey, LLC. “His overall work and specifically his oversight of special teams helped us to second place in the Eastern Conference, and a place in the Eastern Conference Final.”
“JB is a real professional who will be a great asset for Ohio State. We wish him and his family all the best as he returns to his alma mater.”
Bittner played his four-year college career at Ohio State, and won a CCHA championship. He then moved on to a productive pro career at both the ECHL and AHL levels. After his pro career ended in 2008, he has served as an assistant coach with Ohio State (CCHA), the South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL), the Tri-City Storm (USHL), the University of Wisconsin (Big-10), and Dubuque.
“JB is an elite young coach and a true friend and colleague that has a bright future as a hockey coach, husband, and father,” Lammers said of Bittner. “We accomplished a lot as a team thanks to his diligence and tireless work ethic. He embodied the excellence in attitude and effort that we wanted our players to have daily. I wish him and his family the best at Ohio State next season.”
Ohio State made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2009, as the team completed the 2016–17 season with 21 wins, and a first-round matchup against the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and a run to the B1G Semifinals against Wisconsin. Bittner will coach former Fighting Saints Wyatt Ege and Sasha Larocque. Saints forward Quinn Preston is also committed to OSU.
He, along with his wife, Katie, and children Sydney and Benson, will make the move to the Columbus area shortly.