COLUMBUS, Ohio – Among the familiar faces added to the Ohio State women’s hockey staff ahead of the 2022-23 season, Peter Elander is set to make his return to the Buckeye bench as an associate head coach, Ohio State head coach Nadine Muzerall announced Thursday. Elander has over 20 years of coaching experience and has left his mark on virtually every level of women’s hockey.
“We are excited to welcome back Peter Elander to Ohio State,” Muzerall said. “He brings with him a wealth of knowledge of the game of hockey, an impressive European connection and a proven ability to improve talent. He has a quick wit and sense of humor and is a trusted and loyal person that I am excited to have back on my staff.”
During his original coaching stint at Ohio State during the 2017-18 season, Elander was a key part of the year that could be considered the turning point of the program. In that season, Ohio State earned its first NCAA tournament berth and went on to advance to the program’s first Frozen Four appearance. Elander helped the team to a then-program record 24 single season wins, marking just the second time in program history the team won more than 20 games in a season.
“I would like to thank Janine Oman and head coach Nadine Muzerall for giving me the opportunity to come back to The Ohio State University,” Elander said. “When the chance to work again at Ohio State, a school that completely supports its student-athletes and its athletics staff, came up after the Beijing Olympics, I was very humbled and honored. After 20 years coaching at the highest level in women’s ice hockey, this was the perfect time for me to come back to Columbus and work for a school where excellence is the bar and the bond between student-athletes and school is strong.”
Though he had to leave Ohio State in 2018 for personal reasons, Elander has remained a constant supporter and advocate for the Buckeyes.
“Throughout these last five years since he left, Peter has always maintained really good communication with me,” Muzerall said. “He never really left the program. He was always a fan behind the scenes. Whether that was calling me and congratulating us or giving me a hyped-up talk before the Frozen Four, he was always in the know and always stayed relevant to our players and their success. I think that shows true of his character and his loyalty to Ohio State.”
Elander’s most recent coaching stop was in Europe as the head coach of Denmark’s national women’s team in 2020. He helped the team win its Final Olympic Qualification tournament in January to advance to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. This year’s Olympic Games marked the first Olympic appearance for Denmark in the history of the team.
However, this year’s Olympic achievement for Denmark was not the first milestone at the Olympic level that he has been a part of.
In addition to his most recent national team coaching position, Elander previously served as the head coach of Sweden’s Women’s National Team for nine years. The most successful coach in the team’s history, he led Sweden to an upset of the United States in the semifinals of the 2006 Winter Olympics, which has now been coined the “Mirakel” in Turin. Sweden ultimately took silver that year for its first Olympic medal in the team’s history. He later guided the team to a fourth-place result at the 2010 games. In addition to Olympic success under Elander, the Damkronorna also took home bronze at the 2005 and 2007 IIFH Women’s World Championships.
“When the opportunity arose to bring Peter back on staff, it seemed very fitting,” Muzerall said. “As we know, he has his own ‘Miracle on Ice’ with Sweden and helped the team become the only country, aside from Canada, to beat the United States at the Olympics. He really knows how to connect with his athletes to get the best out of them. There are a lot of great coaches that know the X’s and O’s of the game. But it’s about how you get the best out of your players to want to play for you and each other.”
At the NCAA level, Elander spent seven seasons as the associate head coach of the women’s hockey program at the University of North Dakota prior to joining Muzerall’s staff in 2017. While in Grand Forks from 2010-17, he helped the team to the only two NCAA tournament appearances of the program’s existence.
Along with his coaching accomplishments, Elander also found success as a player. He won bronze with Team Sweden at the 1980 U20 World Championships and played in the Swedish Elite League with Sodertalje and Frolunda during the 1980s.
“Peter is just so passionate about the game of hockey and is highly invested in all aspects of the game,” Muzerall said.” He really wants to win and is very competitive. Plus, his work ethic to make sure that we are the best is hard to find. I believe Peter embodies who I am as a head coach and who we are as a culture.”
With Elander officially back on staff, Muzerall’s bench is set for the 2022-23 season. Unique from past seasons, her staff is made up of personnel who she has an established reputation of success with at Ohio State. Elander and director of operations and former player Lauren Spring helped Muzerall set new expectations for the Ohio State program during the 2017-18 season. Kelsey Cline, Ohio State assistant coach and former player under Muzerall at Minnesota, has teamed up with Muzerall to win three national championships, including the Buckeyes’ first in 2022.
“Coach Muzerall has showed during her time at Ohio State that with strong leadership and work ethic, anything is possible, and last season’s national title showed that,” Elander said. “We have a target on our back as defending national champions and that’s a challenge both athletes and coaches embrace.”
The Buckeyes are set to being the 2022-23 season on the road for a series at Minnesota State Sept. 30-Oct. 1. The team opens its home schedule at the OSU Ice Rink Oct. 7 and 8 against St. Cloud State.