BY Jim Fenton
The first move he made after graduating from Stonehill College in 2013 was to head overseas and play professional hockey.
Dana Borges made the 2013-14 season the final one of his playing career when he suited up for the Evry Peaux Rouges in a French Division 2 league.
After that, the Coyle-Cassidy High School graduate knew he wanted to stay involved with the sport, so he returned to Stonehill and spent two seasons working as an assistant under head coach David Borges, his father.
From there, Borges, a two-time captain at Stonehill, was a volunteer assistant at Colgate University for a year and joined the staff at Williams College last season.
Following four years as an assistant and having gained valuable experience working with USA Hockey, Borges made such an impression that he is now coaching at a Division 1 program, one that is far away from his home in Taunton.
Borges was hired this spring to be an assistant coach at the University of Alaska-Anchorage as part of the staff of first-year head coach Matt Curley.
"This is a dream-come-true opportunity to coach at the Division 1 level,″ said Borges, who spent last week working at a hockey clinic on Martha's Vineyard. "It's the real deal, a school that is committed to the hockey program, committed to having a staff in there that can drive forward.
"I'm so excited. I honestly can't wait to get back out there.″
Borges had met Curley, who is a former Bentley University assistant coach, when they worked on the same staff at a USA Hockey camp two years ago.
Curley, who became the sixth head coach in Alaska-Anchorage history on April 21, hired Borges roughly a month later.
"We were on the same staff at USA Hockey and I got to know him them,″ said Borges. "It was hockey networking. I learned he got the job and he's a guy I really value the way he approaches the game, just his philosophies, so I reached out to him about the job.″
The connection was made, and Borges traveled to Alaska to get settled during June before going to a USA Hockey camp in Buffalo and then making his way back to Massachusetts for a brief visit.
Borges, who had 29 goals and 58 assists in his Stonehill career, led the Northeast-10 Conference as a senior with 22 assists and 37 points. A second-team Academic All-America selection, Borges received the first NE-10 Man of the Year Award in 2013.
It was while he was a youngster watching his father coach Coyle-Cassidy before moving to Stonehill when Borges began on the coaching path.
"Growing up in a hockey home with my dad being a coach, I've always been involved in coaching, whether it was youth camps at 16 or 17 years old and in the summer,″ said Borges. "I knew that I could keep playing at those minor pro levels (in France) and whatever, but I knew, ultimately, that was going to come to an end.
"I knew that hockey was my passion. That year I was playing in France, as I was looking over contracts for the next year, I thought more of a career in coaching and that's where my heart really was at that point.″
"He's worked hard and he deserves it,″ said David Borges. "He got the bug when he came back from France. He's big on developing skills and that's what the game is all about, skills.″
Dana Borges only spent a few weeks in Alaska after getting hired and will be back there this week, but he's liked what he's seen so far.
"I love it,″ he said. "It's not the Alaska you see on TV shows as far as the wilderness. I live in Anchorage, which is a city of 300,000 people, a very active, popular city. It's not isolated or desolate by any means. It's one of the coolest places I've ever been.
"One of the big reasons why I wanted to be in Alaska is because hockey is kind of ingrained in the culture of the people. Almost every high school in the area has an outdoor rink. Skating is almost like a rite of passage for kids.
"It's just a really cool atmosphere. It means something to be an Alaskan hockey player and I'm excited to be part of that.″