Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumnus and USHL Green Bay Gamblers assistant coach Luke Strand has accepted the position of head coach at his alma mater, replacing Jean-Francois Laforest, who stepped down in June to take a job in minor league hockey.
Strand, a native of Eau Claire, played college hockey for the Blugolds from 1993-1997 under Ian Perrin, scoring 41 goals and adding 44 assists, placing him in the program’s top 20.
“It’s always been a goal of mine to become a head coach and to be able to do it in my hometown is a great opportunity,” said Strand.
Strand was also an assistant coach under Tim Coghlin at St. Norbert from 2000-2003 before joining the Gamblers staff.
“First of all, I am particularly grateful to director of athletics Scott Kilgallon and the UW-Eau Claire administration for the opportunity of becoming the head coach of the men’s ice hockey program,” said Strand. “I look forward to building relationships with the players, supporters and staff at UWEC. My vision and passion for this position will help create a great environment for student-athletes to grow in.”
After his collegiate career at Eau Claire, Strand played professional hockey in the United Hockey League (UHL) with the Madison Monsters and Madison Kodiaks from 1997-99.
Gamblers head coach and former Harvard coach Mark Mazzoleni says he has no timetable to replace Strand, but is starting the hiring process immediately.
“It’s a tremendous honor for Luke to be able to return to his alma mater as head coach,” said Mazzoleni. “There’s no question he’s well prepared for the challenge and he’ll do an outstanding job of rebuilding that program and bringing it back to prominence at the national level.”