Bemidji State alum Winter returns as new assistant coach

Bemidji State announced Tuesday the hiring of Travis Winter as the Beavers’ new assistant coach.

Winter replaces Bert Gilling, who left the program after 15 years to become head coach at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta.

The 2009 BSU graduate and former captain returns to Bemidji State after getting his coaching feet wet in the United States Hockey League and North American Hockey League.

“Travis understands what it’s like to be a Beaver hockey player,” said BSU head coach Tom Serratore in a statement. “He was a two-time captain here and is a natural-born leader. Since he left Bemidji, he’s become a very experienced coach. He’s had the opportunity to learn as an assistant in the USHL and a head coach in the NAHL – two of the best junior leagues in North America. He has refined his trade and now he is ready to give back to this program.

“Travis is a perfect fit for this position.”

Winter most recently served as head coach and director of hockey operations with the Aberdeen Wings of the NAHL where he took over midway through the 2012-13 season. In the 18 months since he took that position, Winter directed Aberdeen to a 53-24-7 record, a trip to the NAHL playoffs, moved eight players to the USHL and saw 18 make commitments to play NCAA Division I hockey.

“College hockey is a level I’ve always wanted to coach,” added Winter. “It’s special. I loved it when I played and wanted to get back in some capacity.”

Prior to his time with the Wings, Winter spent parts of four seasons (2009 to 2013) serving as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the USHL, where he coached 46 players who earned an opportunity to play Division I hockey and five were selected in the NHL draft.

Winter was also a volunteer coach at Saint John’s in 2009 and served on the coaching staff of the USA Hockey 2010 Select 15 National Camp.

As a player, Winter tallied 28 goals and 37 assists for 65 points in 118 games for the Beavers between 2005 and 2009 and made the program’s first Frozen Four appearance at the conclusion of the 2008-09 campaign.

“I always knew this is where I wanted to be,” added Winter. “The program is close to my heart and my family’s heart. Tom [Serratore], Teddy [Belisle] and Bert [Gilling] have been mentors to me since I came here and every day since I left, so to have the opportunity to work with Tom and Teddy on a day-to-day basis is unbelievable.

“I look forward to the experience.”