Facing a long, cold winter spent pouting in the basement about losing the Duluth East boys' hockey coaching job against his will, Mike Randolph instead returned to the bench.

Randolph has accepted an assistant coaching position at St. Thomas Academy, a private school based in Mendota Heights. Randolph, one of the state's most successful coaches, resigned from Duluth East in June amid an investigation. After leading the Greyhounds for 32 seasons, he cited "parental pressure."

"I want to put what happened behind me and move on," Randolph said Friday. "I've got many years of coaching ahead of me. And I'm excited to work with Trent Eigner, a head coach who I respect and can learn from."

Randolph's record includes 658 victories as a coach, third most in Minnesota high school hockey. He led Duluth East to 18 state tournament appearances, state championships in 1995 and '98 and six second-place finishes. One of those runner-up games came in 2015, against Eigner's former Lakeville North team.

Eigner's courtship of Randolph started with a supportive text and an open invitation to join the Cadets staff. Randolph initially declined. Soon after, he felt his desire to coach and get out of Duluth rise. Plus, three of the Randolph's children and four grandchildren live in the Twin Cities. Ginny Randolph gave her husband the OK to contact Eigner about taking the job.

"I've got friends who played for Mike and they don't like him," Eigner said, "they love him. I know Mike is going to help get our group to compete and execute at a high level on a daily basis."

Eigner's St. Thomas Academy teams reached the Class 2A state tournament the past two seasons.

"We haven't talked about my role yet," Randolph said. "I know the qualities to be a great assistant, and I plan to be that."