After threats of program cuts, minimal success and dismissing of previous coaches, UAA hockey head coach Matt Curley is aiming to build a strong coaching staff.
With a complete turnover of the hockey program in recent months, Curley added yet another strength to the team leadership. In early September, it was announced that Matt Bruneteau will be joining as an assistant coach.
Bruneteau joins the Seawolves with ample experience in the sport. Not only does he have expertise as a competitive player, but he also has experience as a coach. Bruneteau also brings his knowledge through a variety of subjects he pursued in his college years.
He attended and graduated from Lake Superior State with a variety of degrees and majors: a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and an associate degree in health and fitness with minors in psychology and coaching.
Additionally, he spent his collegiate years juggling competitive hockey.
“I attended a boarding school, Shattuck St. Mary’s, for high school,” Bruneteau said. “After this I played junior hockey in the NAHL and USHL before playing college hockey at Lake Superior State University (3 years CCHA, 1 year WCHA).”
After his amateur season came to an end, Bruneteau continued on to professional leagues.
He briefly played in the East Coast Hockey League for the Fort Wayne Komets and the Greenville Road Warriors. He continued into the French League to play for Strasbourg Etoile Noire for two years.
After retiring from his professional and competitive years of playing hockey, Bruneteau transitioned into the realm of coaching.
“I started coaching for Stevenson University [an NCAA Division III team] for two years before moving to Anchorage,” Bruneteau said.
At Stevenson University in Pikesville, Maryland, Bruneteau learned some valuable lessons and skills that he hopes to bring to UAA to incorporate into his team.
It was there that Bruneteau helped start the program and get the team up and running. For two years he helped build the team and program, eventually leading them to the 2018 Mid-Atlantic Conference Championship. They finished off the season with an 11-8-7 record.
“To improve each day, in hockey, your mentality plays a key role, whether in coaching or as a player. Over the course of a season, you experience many different emotions,” Bruneteau said.
These are things that Bruneteau has experienced first hand, both as an athlete and coach. In his competitive days, he helped lead his team as a captain gaining valuable leadership that built a deeper understanding of the sport.
“Learning how to control [your emotions] to maximize your individual potential or help others can play a substantial role in a team’s success,” Bruneteau said.
Based on his personal knowledge, experience and education, Bruneteau felt he was making a great decision by coming to UAA.
“Talking to the rest of the coaching staff at UAA made it an easy decision for me to move to Anchorage. I feel that the staff is the right fit for what UAA needs right now,” Bruneteau said.
Despite the negative history and fleeting success that has put the UAA hockey team in a position to be cut before, a complete turnover of coaching staff might be a positive change for the program.
“The UAA hockey program has a lot of positive things going for it, because of this I see no reason why the program doesn’t have a chance to make improvements over time,” Bruneteau said.
Curley also felt as though UAA was a great fit for Bruneteau and that his skill set would be a great addition to the team.
“As an inaugural player of the new WCHA, Matt [Bruneteau] understands the competitiveness of our league and the challenges that are associated with playing in it. As a former captain, he brings a sense of leadership and dedication to our program along with the work ethic and responsibility that comes with that position,” Curley said.
Bruneteau, Curley, the remaining coaching staff and the UAA hockey players will kick off their new season at the end of the month. The Seawolves will battle Simon Fraser on Sept. 28 in Eagle River.
For the full schedule, roster, and more, visit www.goseawolves.com.