Coach took Burnsville to two state tournaments
Janne Kivihalme, who coached Burnsville boys hockey teams to two conference championships and two section titles, is leaving the Blaze but not the South Suburban Conference.
Kivihalme will be the new head coach at Lakeville South, the school announced Tuesday. The hiring is subject to School Board approval, which is expected May 8.
He will replace A.J. Bucchino, who was Lakeville South’s head coach the last three years and in March was named head coach of the Minnesota Magicians, a Junior league team based in Richfield. Kivihalme will be the third head boys hockey coach in Lakeville South’s history, following program founder Kurt Weber, who coached from 2005 to 2015, and Bucchino.
This marks the second time in about 14 months a Burnsville High School head coach has left for Lakeville South. Last spring Tyler Krebs, previously head football coach at Burnsville, accepted the same position at South.
The Blaze remained one of the state’s most consistently successful boys hockey programs in Kivihalme’s 12 years as head coach. His teams were 204-109-19, won Lake Conference championships in 2007 and 2010, and were section champions in 2007 and 2016. The 2006-07 team ended a 16-year state tournament drought at Burnsville.
“Coach Kivihalme is a proven leader in the South Suburban Conference with a strong vision on how to build a program from the youth level through varsity,” Lakeville South activities director Tom Dasovich said in a statement.
Kivihalme’s former players at Burnsville include Brock Boeser, now a forward for the Vancouver Canucks and a leading candidate for the Calder Trophy, given to the NHL’s top rookie; University of Minnesota men’s hockey captain Tyler Sheehy; St. Cloud State University defenseman Jack Ahcan; Tyler Barnes, who played at the University of Wisconsin and was ECHL Rookie of the Year in 2014-15; and Kivihalme’s son Teemu, who went on to play at Colorado College.
Kivihalme played at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, where he is a member of the school’s athletic hall of fame. He also played on Finland’s Under-20 national team. He was an assistant coach at Minnetonka High School for six years.
Lakeville South had a winning record in each of Bucchino’s three seasons as head coach; his teams were 48-34-4 overall. The Cougars reached the state Class AA tournament in 2016, finishing fourth. Last season Lakeville South was 14-12-2 and advanced to the Section 1AA championship game before losing to Lakeville North 4-3.
Kivihalme’s final Burnsville team was 11-16 overall, finished fifth in the South Suburban Conference and reached the Section 3AA semifinals.