UAA Athletics

UAA names 3 finalists for hockey job, including alum Matt Shasby

Three men are in the running to take over the salvaged UAA hockey team, including Matt Shasby, who played for the Seawolves 20 years ago and has long been part of the Anchorage hockey scene as a player and coach.

The other finalists include Steve Murphy, the head coach at Buffalo State College who has Alaska roots, and Chris Cosentino, the director of a youth hockey group in New York City who spent a decade as the head coach at New York University.

The three will appear on online forums in the next week:

— Shasby on Wednesday from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

— Murphy on Thursday from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

— Cosentino on Friday from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Whoever gets the job will take on the arduous task of restoring a program that was eliminated a year ago by the University of Alaska’s Board of Regents. A massive, $3 million fundraising effort saved the Seawolves.

[UAA hockey program plans 2022-23 after $3 million fundraising effort]

The new coach will be starting from scratch with a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2013-14.

The Seawolves didn’t play last season because of the pandemic, and they aren’t playing this season so they can reinvent themselves in time for the 2022-23 season.

UAA has no players — everyone from the 2019-20 team either transferred, graduated or quit. It has no conference — the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, UAA’s longtime home, disbanded as a men’s league after last season. And it has an inadequate home rink at the Seawolf Sports Complex, an on-campus facility that seats about 800.

About 25 people applied to replace former coach Matt Curley, who resigned after three seasons after posting a 7-53-10 record in two seasons (UAA didn’t play any games in Curley’s final season).

Since joining the WCHA in 1993-94, UAA has had one winning season. It came in 2013-14 when first-year coach Matt Thomas led the Seawolves to a 18-16-4 finish.

Among those hoping to turn things around is Shasby, who has long been part of the hockey scene in Anchorage. He played high school hockey at Chugiak High and went on to a four-year career at UAA, where he was a conference all-league defenseman and member of the all-academic team.

He played six years of pro hockey, including four years with the Alaska Aces. He was a member of the 2006 Kelly Cup team and retired in 2009.

Shasby is a middle school teacher who has spent years coaching high school and Anchorage Hockey Association youth teams and is the vice president of player development for the Alaska State Hockey Association. He was active in the Save Seawolf Hockey fundraising effort to restore hockey at UAA.

Murphy, a head coach at NCAA Division III Buffalo State, is from Anchorage. He has been the head coach there since 2015 and has led the Bengals to five straight playoff berths while posting a 73-47-12 record.

Before that Murphy was an assistant coach for the Kenai River Brown Bears of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), a league for which he also served as head referee in 2011-12. His Alaska experience includes coaching an Alaska All-Stars youth team and playing for the defunct Wasilla Spirit junior hockey team.

Cosentino was the coach at NYU from 2010-20 and twice was named coach of the year in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, a competitive, nonscholarshipped conference of college teams. He played college hockey at Iona College and is currently the hockey director for the New York City Skyliners youth hockey program.

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.