DUBUQUE, IA– Dubuque Fighting Saints Head Coach and General Manager Matt Shaw has been hired as an Assistant Coach at the University of North Dakota, announced today by the school via press release. Shaw, who spent two seasons behind the bench with the Fighting Saints, will join one of the top college hockey programs in the country that has appeared in the NCAA Tournament 30 times, made the Frozen Four 21 times and won seven national championships. Shaw will join North Dakota as his son Hayden, a defenseman for Dubuque last season, is set to skate for UND as a freshman this fall.
“My two seasons in Dubuque were as rewarding of a time as I’ve had in my coaching career,” said Shaw. “The hardest thing about this process was telling our returning players I wouldn’t be back. Dubuque was a place that would have been easy to want to spend a number of years in, but this particular opportunity at an elite program like the University of North Dakota was a perfect fit and on a professional, family and long term career and financial security level.”
Shaw was named Head Coach and General Manager of the Fighting Saints on June 3, 2013, succeeding current University of Denver coach Jim Montgomery. Shaw, the second coach in Dubuque’s history since the team’s return to the USHL in 2010, helped guide the Fighting Saints to a 69-42-9 record during his two seasons behind the bench. During his tenure, Dubuque qualified for the playoffs each season, advancing to the Eastern Conference Final both years. Dubuque captured the Prairie Farms Cowbell Cup as the best team in Eastern Iowa during the 2014-2015 campaign under Shaw’s watch. Additionally, Shaw was named to the coaching staff of the 2015 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game held in Dubuque in January.
Shaw also coached Dubuque in international play, leading the club to a Bronze Medal win at the 2013 Junior Club World Cup in Omsk, Russia less than three months after being named coach of the team. Shaw’s Dubuque squad beat the host Omsk Hawks, 6-4, in front of nearly 10,000 fans to advance to the medal round. Dubuque knocked off Belarus’ Dinamo Shinnik to earn the Bronze Medal.
“I cannot say enough about the community of Dubuque and how our family was welcomed with open arms,” said Shaw. “I want to thank our ownership group Northern Lights Hockey, LLC. and the Fighting Saints organization. Our players, staff, housing families, parents, and our amazing fans made for a great two years. Dubuque is truly a first-class organization in a hockey town. To be able to be a part of an elite organization like this one was very gratifying.”
In Shaw’s time in Dubuque, the Fighting Saints have enjoyed success developing players on and off the ice. In the classroom, Dubuque players posted a cumulative 3.5 GPA this past year, and 22 players on Dubuque’s roster have accepted a NCAA Division-I scholarship. 11 players from the 2013-2014 team coached by Shaw played NCAA hockey last year including New Hampshire’s Shane Eiserman, who was selected in the 4th Round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators.
“Every year we challenge our staff to improve each and every aspect of our business on and off the ice,” said Brad Kwong, Managing Partner of Northern Lights Hockey, LLC. “Two years ago, Matt took a platform of success established by Jim Montgomery and he built upon that platform by bringing another level of professionalism to the Fighting Saints. Through his tireless work as a coach and manager and his excellent leadership, the Fighting Saints have made great strides in our quest to become one of the elite junior hockey programs in North America. On behalf of our ownership group I’d like to say thank you to Matt and his family for the past two years. We are all extremely happy for the Shaws and wish both Matt and Hayden great success at UND in the coming years.”
Shaw, who has over 20 years of coaching experience, came to Dubuque from the NHL’s New Jersey Devils where he spent the 2012-13 season as an Assistant Coach. His vast experience included spending six seasons in the NHL, working as a Video Coach with Minnesota in 2007-08 before joining the Wild staff as an Assistant Coach in 2008-09. Shaw served in the same role with the San Jose Sharks from 2009-12 before joining the Devils. Shaw, a former USHL defenseman with Sioux City, finished his NCAA playing career at Colorado College where he made the jump to coaching in 1990. His career behind the bench has also seen stints with the Quad City Mallards, Mobile Mysticks, Chicago Wolves and the Houston Aeros, where Shaw won the 2003 Calder Cup.
Shaw’s experience will lend well to North Dakota where he will join new Head Coach Brad Berry’s staff and help run the power play. Shaw will also get a chance to continue coaching son Hayden, who joined the Fighting Saints at the USHL’s Trade Deadline last season. The younger Shaw led Dubuque in playoff scoring with 12 points from the blue line, and was named All-USHL First Team. He will be a freshman at the University of North Dakota this fall.
“There is no other opportunity that would compare,” said Shaw. “The University of North Dakota is a one-of-a-kind hockey program and a unique institution. This particular opportunity was a perfect fit and from a family perspective, appealed to me greatly. My time in Dubuque was memorable and I’ll always consider myself a ‘Saint for Life’ because of it.”
The Fighting Saints have begun a search for Shaw’s replacement and expect to name the organization’s third coach (since the return to the USHL in 2010) in the coming weeks.