Quotes: Reaction to UAA's hiring of Matt Thomas

Doyle Woody

Here's what some hockey folks had to say about Matt Thomas, the former Stockton Thunder coach who Tuesday became the fifth head coach in UAA hockey history:

Former UAA and Aces captain Mike Scott, who briefly played under Thomas when Thomas was an assistant coach at ECHL Atlantic City, and was also a member of the search committee:

* On Thomas' ability to develop players: "He takes a third-line guy and has to move him up to the second line, and all of a sudden that guy fits in there. That's the knack of a good coach. He's found a way to make the pieces he has work.

"At the end of the day, it's a coach's job to get the best out of players, and he does it time and again. That's no accident.''

* On hiring a coach from the pro ranks, which is rare in college hockey: "To be honest, he's a little bit outside the box, and to myself and members of the committee, that was a positive, not your boilerplate common thing.

"You look at his record and the places he's done it (Fresno and Stockton, Calif.). He's taken two organizations that were in, maybe, shambles, or a rough spot, and he put them in a good place.''




Former UAA defenseman Mark Filipenko, president of the UAA Hockey Alumni Association and a member of the search committee:

* "He was professional and he was really prepared. All six candidates were professional and well-prepared. He really did have a vision laid out, and he talked about what he will do. And you don't get to the point he has in his career without being a great communicator.

"He's an outsider looking in, with vision, and that bodes well. And he's a player's coach, and these guys have been beaten down the last couple years. They need someone to embrace them and move forward. He'll help these kids grow.''




Former Alaska Aces winger Matt Robinson, who played against Thomas' teams in Fresno and played for Thomas in Stockton:

* On playing for Thomas: "He gave me the chance and the break I needed. I was young and hadn't got that shot on the first line and first power play. He gave that to me, and things went from there, and I was grateful for the opportunity.''

* On Thomas' demeanor: "When it comes to off the ice, he's great, easy to talk to. On the ice, he's very emotional, and he'll tell you what you need to do.

"It's always intense. As soon as you come to the rink, you know you're there to work. And you still have fun. The practices are fast-paced and productive.''

* On playing against a Thomas-coached team: "If they're losing 6-0 or up 6-0, there's no mercy.''




UAA goaltender Chris Kamal, who will be a senior in the fall:

* "We're given the opportunity for a fresh start, and it's exciting. Not many guys are ever in position to turn the page. We're all really excited to prove we're not a (4-25-7) team.''


Anchorage Daily News