Matt Thomas has been named the new head coach at Alaska-Anchorage, replacing Dave Shyiak, who was relieved of his duties in April.
The fifth head coach in UAA history, Thomas comes to the Seawolves after nine years as a head coach and general manager in the ECHL, including the last four-plus seasons with the Stockton (Calif.) Thunder, who he led to the Kelly Cup finals this spring.
“I would like to thank [UAA vice chancellor] Dr. [Bill] Spindle, the search committee, [interim athletic director] Tim McDiffett and the entire UAA athletics staff for this tremendous opportunity to lead the Seawolf hockey program,” Thomas said in a statement. “This is an exciting challenge as we try to take UAA hockey to the next level in a year full of change. The new look of the WCHA and college hockey landscape offers a unique opportunity for our student-athletes. I am committed to the individual success of our players and want to let them know they will be an integral part of restoring a winning tradition.
“I have always admired the sense of community and pride that is associated with Anchorage and the entire state of Alaska and our entire family is excited about the move. It truly is a ‘hockey state.’ My goal is to bring back the passion for UAA hockey and produce a winner for the community, alumni and our fan base.”
From 2005-08, Thomas was the head coach and GM of the ECHL’s Fresno Falcons and from 2004-05, guided the ECHL’s Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies. He was also an assistant in Atlantic City from 2002-04, winning the 2003 Kelly Cup.
In all, Thomas’ teams advanced 126 players to the American Hockey League in his 11 combined seasons as a head coach or assistant coach.
Before his foray into the pro ranks, Thomas was an assistant coach at Maine from 2000-02 and at his alma mater, RIT, from 1998-99, helping the Tigers to the 1999 NCAA Division III semifinals.
Thomas played four seasons at RIT from 1994-98, captaining the Tigers to an NCAA berth and a No. 1 ranking as a senior.