Minnetonka girls' hockey coach Tracy Cassano did not realize the supposed significance of her team's victory against Blake on Monday night until afterward.
Cassano's husband, Mike, who is a Skippers assistant coach, congratulated her, to which she replied, "Congratulations to you as well, it was a good win tonight.
"Then he said, 'This was your 200th career win,' " Cassano said. "I wasn't sure but he said, 'I've got it right here.' "
Or so Mike thought.
At practice on Tuesday, Cassano saluted her players for receiving the Minnesota Girls Hockey Coaches Association Section 2AA Team All-Academic Award. Then the dean of female hockey coaches in Minnesota began calling out the day's first drill.
Not so fast, her assistant coaches said. There was a milestone to celebrate, including giving the ground-breaking coach a commemorative puck for career victory No. 200.
Or so they thought.
A review of Cassano's 15-year head coaching career Wednesday revealed Mike Cassano was short by two victories. Victory No. 200 actually came Feb. 27 against Moorhead.
Economics and history of sports, ironically, are among Mike's teaching responsibilities at Rosemount High School.
In any case, Tracy Cassano remains an important figure in Minnesota hockey coaching ranks. Last season, she became the first female head coach to direct three different girls' hockey teams to the state tournament. And she is believed to be the state's first female hockey coach to reach the 200-victory plateau. With one game left in the regular season, Cassano holds a career record of 203 victories, 173 losses and 24 ties.
She coached for five seasons at Rosemount and led the Irish to the 2011 state tournament. After the season, Cassano left for a two-year stint with Chaska/Chanhassen. Then she went to Burnsville where, in her first season, she led the Blaze to the state tournament and earned coach of the year honors.
Cassano (formerly Engstrom) helped the University of Minnesota to the American Women's College Hockey Alliance championship in 2000. She was a two-time captain of the Gophers.
"Whether it was the male coaches I had growing up or Laura Halldorson at the U, my biggest female role model at that point, all my coaches have made it about their players," Cassano said. "And so those examples are what I brought into coaching. When your kids see that your passion is working with them, that's when you can get the most out of them.
"Yes, I want to win, but I've always seen coaching hockey as an opportunity to provide an awesome, positive experience for the girls. That's what it's all about."
Halldorson recently told Jess Myers of The Rink Live, "When Tracy was a co-captain with [former Edina coach] Laura Slominski, it was one of the most fun seasons that we had, in large part because of those two captains doing such a great job of leading by example," Halldorson said. "They're both so humble and team-oriented people."
Tracy and Mike were married in 2010, a milestone he has no trouble remembering each year.
"The only reason why is that we got married on July 4," Mike said. "I talked to the city of Apple Valley and every year, they put on a big fireworks display, just for her."