Updated: April 7, 2014 at 6:29 pm
A dozen hopefuls reached out to Colorado College athletic director Ken Ralph since longtime hockey coach Scott Owens resigned on the weekend.
Expect that number to double over the next several days with only two openings nationwide out of 59 Division I head coaching jobs.
Ralph is looking for candidates who see the National Collegiate Hockey Conference program as a destination job.
"I talked to people I respect around college hockey about whether this is a destination job," Ralph said. "I believed that was the case and it was gratifying to hear them call it a top 10 job."
The search has just begun, Ralph said, saying he plans to be thorough in vetting the candidates who reach out to him and those he approaches.
"We would love to get someone in place before the end of the academic year (May 14)," he said. "But we are not going to rush things. We are going to search for the right candidate who could be the coach for the next 15 years."
Expect coaches and assistants from the junior, major junior, college and minor league pro ranks on the candidates list, which will be compiled the next two weeks before vetting begins. Ralph will be looking for a candidate with passion and attention for detail.
He confirmed two candidates are Tigers assistants Joe Bonnett and Eric Rud.
"Their body of work is considerable," Ralph said. "We have the strongest assistant staff in the country and they will share the duties overseeing the program this offseason."
"It is a very attractive job," Bonnett said. "I will continue to work with the players we have and the commits we have secured."
Ralph said the right hire will accept the recruiting challenges of high tuition ($58,000 annually), especially tough with 18 full-ride scholarships available for 25-27 players, and the stout academic standards.
"Our graduation rate (1,000 out of a possible 1,000 score) is the envy of college hockey," Ralph said. "I want a coach who is excited about getting this community engaged and will be fully involved in seeing kids get through what is a challenging academic school."
Names making the speculation rounds on social media include Minnesota assistant Mike Guentzel, Minnesota State-Mankato coach Mike Hastings, Providence coach Nate Leaman, who signed a long extension this season, and UMass-Lowell alumnus Norm Bazin.
Bazin and Guentzel are former Tigers assistants. They join Bonnett, Rud and former college assistants and current junior coaches Cary Eades and Derek Lalonde as other possibilities.
Former Denver coach George Gwozdecky and Air Force coach Frank Serratore have said they are not interested.
"I don't think George has any interest and it would not be a good fit," Ralph said.
The other head coach opening is at Western Collegiate Hockey Association member Lake Superior State of Sault-St. Marie, Mich., after it did not renew alumnus Jim Roque's contract in mid-March.