Former UAA hockey coach Matt Curley is the new USHL coach in Des Moines

Matt Curley, who recently resigned as the UAA hockey coach, is going from Anchorage to Iowa, where the scenery is less spectacular but the situation is more stable.

Curley, 38, is the new coach of the Des Moines Buccaneers junior league hockey team in Iowa. He joins a tradition-rich U.S. Hockey League team that expects to begin play in a new arena in 2022.

He joins the Buccaneers after three seasons as the UAA hockey coach, where he spent his first two trying to rebuild the Seawolves and his final season trying to help save them. Supporters of UAA hockey need to raise $3 million by the end of August in order to save the NCAA Division I team from elimination; so far, nearly $2.3 million has been raised.

Curley was 7-53-10 in two seasons at UAA. The Seawolves, who haven’t had a winning season since 2013-14, didn’t play during the 2020-21 pandemic season.

UAA isn’t playing next year either, a decision made to give the program time to regroup in the event the fundraising goal was met. Facing an uncertain future, all of UAA’s underclassmen left the team during the 2020-21 school year; Curley announced his resignation June 14.

The job in Des Moines marks a return to junior hockey for Curley, who came to UAA after three seasons with a junior team in Austria. He’s also a former assistant coach for the now-defunct Indiana Ice of the USHL and has helped coach several USA Hockey age-group teams.

But the new job won’t bring Curley back to Anchorage, which is getting a junior hockey team for the 2021-22 season.

The 14-team USHL is the only Tier I junior hockey league in the United States, making it the highest level of competition for players who are 20 years and younger. Alaska’s three junior teams -- the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, the Kenai River Brown Bears and the new Anchorage Wolverines -- play in the Tier II North American Hockey League, a lower level than the USHL.

Beth Bragg

Beth Bragg wrote about sports and other topics for the ADN for more than 35 years, much of it as sports editor. She retired in October 2021. She's contributing coverage of Alaskans involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics.