Former Wisconsin player and assistant coach Mark Osiecki has found a new home in the professional coaching ranks with the Rockford Ice Hogs of the American Hockey League. The Ice Hogs are the AHL affiliate for the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Osiecki confirmed the news to Bucky's 5th Quarter on Tuesday from Chicago's prospect camp.
"I've always wanted to step into the pro game and this was a perfect opportunity for me," Osiecki said.
Osiecki was let go from his job as head coach at Ohio State in a shocking move on April 15 and has been the topic of many coaching rumors ever since. The move to Rockford will be his first taste of pro hockey from behind the bench.
The Burnsville, Minn., native led OSU to a 16-17-7 record last season, helping the Buckeyes to a fourth-place finish in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association while advancing to the league semifinals in the CCHA playoffs.
In his three-season Ohio State career, Osiecki had a 46-50-16 record at the helm.
Thought of as one of the top defensive minds in the sport, Osiecki was let go by OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith due to an alleged difference of opinion.
"We are making a change in our head hockey coaching position," director of athletics Gene Smith said in a release at the time. "There was a difference of opinion over the management of the program that could not be resolved."
Osiecki played four seasons at Wisconsin, winning a national championship with the Badgers in 1990. The star UW defenseman played 93 games in the NHL between four teams, the Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota North Stars before retiring in 1995.
After hanging up the skates, Osiecki moved into the coaching ranks as an assistant at the University of North Dakota in 1996-97. After one season in Grand Forks, Osiecki took the head coaching job with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, where he spent seven seasons behind the bench.
Osiecki moved back to the Badgers before the 2004 season, taking an assistant coaching job on Mike Eaves' staff. Osiecki was an integral part of the staff at Wisconsin that coached and recruited the 2006 national championship squad as well as the 2010 Frozen Four team.
The news of Osiecki's hiring in Rockford comes on the heels of Ben Simon and Steve Poapst being let go by the organization recently. Osiecki will fill the position of Poapst, who coached the defensemen with the Ice Hogs last season.
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