Our View: Welcome and good luck to new UAA hockey coach

Welcome and good luck

Matt Thomas comes to UAA hockey with good will and good record

It's a been a rough spring for UAA athletics, at least on the administration side, with a couple firings and investigations. Whatever the final conclusions, this has not been the university's finest hour.

Newly hired UAA hockey coach Matt Thomas is no doubt well aware of recent history here. But he had no part in that. So even though he takes over a program that scratched out just four wins in 36 games last year, the ice he rules is Zamboni smooth.

Nothing like a fresh start.

Thomas appears to be a good choice for several reasons. During turns in professional hockey with rival teams of the Alaska Aces, most recently the Stockton Thunder, he earned the respect of his adversaries and good words from former players. He brings fresh eyes, intensity and a long-lasting desire to coach at the college level.

He's not widely known here, but he's no stranger, either, and looks like a good choice to re-establish long-lost rapport with a community that once turned out in force for the Seawolves.

The UAA athletic department remains in limbo without a director, but Thomas clearly has the chops to get busy without direction from the top. His track record in the ECHL looks like a prescription for UAA -- he's taken teams that were down and turned them into winners.

One comment quoted by reporter Doyle Woody in Wednesday's Daily News strikes a particularly hopeful note: "... 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."

If Mark Filipenko, former Seawolves defenseman and current president of the alumni hockey association, is right in that assessment, betters days are ahead.


BOTTOM LINE: New coach, fresh sheet of ice for UAA hockey.