Confirming our report at Bucky's 5th Quarter from last night, the University of Wisconsin issued a press release Friday morning to announce the hiring of Matt Walsh as interim assistant hockey coach.
A member of Wisconsin's 1983 NCAA championship team as a freshman defenseman, Walsh played for the Badgers from 1982-86, winning the WHA-TV Jim Santulli 7th-Man Award his senior season. A Madison, Wis., native, Walsh currently resides in Janesville.
"We are really excited to have Matt come aboard," said UW head coach Mike Eaves. "He is an alumni and a disciple of Grant Standbrook. He comes in as a defense-minded coach, having played that position as a Badger."
"I've gotten to know Matt a little bit through Wisconsin hockey. He's been very involved in high school hockey and has coached in Wisconsin. Being an alumni, he's got deep roots. He's very excited about coming to this program and helping us move forward."
The position opened up when former UW assistant coach Bill Butters left the team abruptly on November 7. At the time, Butters cited his passion for ministry as the reason he felt it was necessary to leave in the middle of the season.
"I think I was making an impact, but not as much as needed to be," Butters said. "We have a young defensive core, and they just need a guy who is going to get them better, quicker.
"In the long run, my passion is telling my faith story."
Wisconsin opened up the search for an interim replacement immediately, and have found its man in Walsh.
Coach-in-Chief for USA Hockey's Central District since 1995, Walsh has been responsible for coordinating seminars for USA Hockey's Coaching Education Program over a six-state area. In 2003, Walsh represented USA Hockey's Coaching Education Program at an IIHF World Development Camp, where he presented to coaches from around the world.
Throughout his time with USA Hockey, he has served as an evaluator for various USA Hockey Select 15, 16 and 17 teams. He also co-coached Select 15 and 16 district teams.
Head coach of Team Wisconsin from 1991-96 and in 1998 and 1999, Walsh was also an assistant coach for the team from 1988 to 1990. The team is made up of the top 20 seniors from Wisconsin.
From 1994-96, Walsh was head coach of the Stoughton High School squad.
"This has been a process," Eaves added. "It was not done overnight. We had a lot of phone calls. We had a lot of emails. We went through our entire list, scoping it down to a group and then talking in person, or via Skype or travelling somewhat and meeting with the people we thought would be serious candidates. Once doing that, we had to go through a background check and get it approved by the administration up on the hill.
"I think we've moved diligently, but at a good pace to get this done because we can't have this hole exist too long. We need to get another coach in here so we don't fall behind in any of the areas we do as coaches."
Walsh will help recruit for the Badgers, but must pass his NCAA recruiting test before getting out on the road.
Walsh is hired through the end of April, when the position will reopen for a national search to find a permanent assistant coach.
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