After a prolonged and dramatic search, Matt Thomas has been chosen to spearhead the new era of Seawolf hockey. UAA vice chancellor Dr. Bill Spindle made the announcement Tuesday that Thomas landed the head coaching job.
Thomas comes to the program fresh off an appearance in the ECHL Finals as head coach of the Stockton Thunder. He’ll end his time in Stockton with a 163-127-39 record.
Prior to the Thunder, Thomas was acting as both head coach and general manager of the ECHL’s Fresno Falcons. In almost four seasons manning the two roles, he made the Western Conference finals and tallied a 173-76-33 mark.
Thomas’ origin story starts in Atlantic City with the Boardwalk Bullies — yet another ECHL franchise. He won a Kelly Cup in 2003 as the club’s assistant coach and director of hockey operations. A year later, he was given the reins and coached the team to a 42-22-8 season.
There is a trend here. There’s one thing Thomas has done in every city and in every front office position.
At Thomas’ public forum, he said winning is his foundation. Wherever he goes, he wins.
There were other candidates who boasted gaudy win totals, but none of them did it at a professional level. Thomas did.
The first thing Spindle notes in the press release sent out by the university is Thomas’ experience. No other coach could rival the kind of experience he has built up during his time in the ECHL.
In that same press release, Thomas stresses his commitment to success and sends a message to the players that “they will be an integral part of restoring a winning tradition.”
But he also shows an acute understanding of what he’s getting into.
“I have always admired the sense of community and pride that is associated with Anchorage and the entire state of Alaska, and our entire family is excited about the move,” Thomas said.
“It truly is a ‘hockey state,’” he said. “My goal is to bring back the passion for UAA hockey and produce a winner for the community, alumni and our fan base.”
The mission of this whole search was to hunt down a coach capable of re-igniting the Seawolf hockey program. Thomas certainly has the credentials and desire to do so.
Thomas said it’s always been his dream to coach college hockey. Now it’s a staggering and demanding reality.