Denfeld News

May 17, 2011
Duluth News Tribune

USHL team interested in UMD assistant coach Larson
By Kevin Pates

The Sioux City (Iowa) Musketeers of the United States Hockey League have talked with Minnesota Duluth assistant Brett Larson about the team’s head coach opening.

Larson, 38, in his third season at UMD, talked by phone last week with Craig Woodcroft, one of three Sioux City owners, who are based in St. Louis. Woodcroft said Monday he’s making candidate background checks and hopes to have a coach named as soon as this week.

“My goal is to be a (college) head coach, and a head job in the USHL could be a step toward that. The opportunity at Sioux City was something I had to look at,” said Larson, a Duluth native and former UMD defenseman.

Sioux City coach Luke Strand, 38, a former Wisconsin-Eau Claire player, was fired April 22 after two seasons and a record of 58-47 and 15 overtime losses. The Musketeers were 31-23 in 2010-11 and lost in the first round of the USHL playoffs. Assistant coaches Cam Ellsworth and Keith Paulsen have remained with the team.

Woodcroft’s group, which has owned the franchise for one year, had 70 applicants for the job, interviewed six and are said to have three finalists.

“This is a first-class organization and we want to do our homework on our finalists before choosing a coach,” said Woodcroft. “We had a good interview with Brett.”

He told the Sioux City Journal last week: “We want to be the type of team that always wants to be on the offense. If you look at the NCAA champions from Minnesota Duluth, when they don’t have the puck, they pursue furiously to get it back. That was one of the most offensive teams in the NCAA and that style of hockey wins.”

Sioux City plays in the 4,500-seat, $65 million Gateway Arena, which opened in 2003. The team averaged about 2,500 fans this season.

UMD contract extensions for head coach Scott Sandelin and assistants Larson and Derek Plante will be completed this week, athletic director Bob Nielson said Monday. Assistant coaches typically have had one-year renewable contracts. The Bulldogs are 71-40-15 in Larson’s three years with the program.

The Chicago Steel of the USHL also showed some interest in Larson before hiring Scott McConnell as head coach Sunday.

Also, the USHL draft for 2011-12 was held Monday. The top pick from Northeastern Minnesota was Hibbing sophomore forward Adam Johnson, a UMD recruit, who was the first pick of the second round by Indiana.

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