UAA hockey adds assistant coach with recruiting experience

Beth Bragg

UAA's new hockey coach made his first major move Friday, announcing the hiring of an assistant coach who brings significant experience as a recruiter.

Josh Ciocco, a former ECHL player once coached by his new boss, spent last season working as an assistant prep school coach at Milton Academy in Massachusetts and as a scout for the U.S. Hockey Report.

Ciocco played for the Fresno Falcons in 2007-08 for Matt Thomas, who was hired as UAA's head coach last month.

"There wasn't a night that he didn't bring 100 percent effort," Thomas said Friday. "He's a guy that's gonna find a way to outwork somebody else. To me, that's a large part of coaching hockey -- you have to find a way to be doing more than the next guy."

Ciocco, 30, played four seasons for the University of New Hampshire, where he was captain his senior year.

He spent two years in the ECHL, playing for the Wheeling Nailers before his season in Fresno, and then spent two years as a scout and recruiter for Pulver Sports Management, a sports agency that focuses on hockey and counts Anchorage's Scott Gomez among its clients. He has also worked as an on-air television analyst for Hockey East.

As a scout with U.S. Hockey Report, Ciocco dealt with American players at the amateur level. "He was identifying the best players available for college hockey and writing scouting reports," Thomas said.

Ciocco's only coaching experience is at Milton, where he worked under longtime coach Paul Cannata and was responsible mostly for forwards. He will continue to work primarily with forwards at UAA, but it's his experience as a scout and recruiter that made him attractive to Thomas.

"I was looking at a few specific things that I thought would make us a legitimate program, and I felt that onew of the areas that I wanted to address was making sure we were strong in the recruiting game," Thomas said. "We need to be on top of every player that's out there, or we should be in the mix with them. Josh has the experience."

Ciocco won't be recruiting players for the upcoming season -- that roster is pretty much set, said Thomas, who was hired June 18 to replace Dave Shyiak, who was fired after eight seasons and an 80-177-33 record that included no winning seasons.

But the Seawolves have player needs for the next season, and Ciocco will start targeting recruits shortly after he joins the staff Thursday.

In a press release issued by UAA, Ciocco noted that the Seawolves will have the youngest coaching staff in college hockey this season. He and returning assistant coach T.J. Jindra are both 30 and Thomas is 37.

"That mean's there's a lot of room to grow," Thomas said.

Reach Beth Bragg at or 257-4335.