Ward joins Maverick hockey coaching staff

Minnesota State men’s hockey coach Luke Strand announced a new addition to the Maverick...
Minnesota State men’s hockey coach Luke Strand announced a new addition to the Maverick coaching staff for the upcoming season.(Jackson Jirik)
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 3:27 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Minnesota State men’s hockey coach Luke Strand announced a new addition to the Maverick coaching staff for the upcoming season. With a great deal of experience and knowledge to add to the table, Troy G. Ward has been hired as an associate head coach with the Mavericks.

“Troy brings an element to our staff that is one of high-end experience,” said Strand. “He is a very talented coach on and off the ice. Most importantly, however, Troy will be a teacher and servant leader to our players. I am thrilled to be working alongside Troy again.”

Ward comes to Minnesota State after spending the last season with the Sioux City Musketeers as their general manager.

“It’s a privilege and an honor to join the Mavericks,” said Ward. “I remember playing against the Mavericks back in the NCHA as both a player and a coach dating back to Coach Don Brose. Maverick hockey is a program of excellence and I look forward to continuing the tradition.”

Ward’s extensive coaching background includes stops in junior, collegiate, and professional hockey.

Owning an undergraduate and Master’s degree from UW-Eau Claire, Ward started his career there serving as both an assistant and head coach. After beginning as an assistant for the 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons, Ward then spent three seasons as the head coach of the BluGolds, picking up 45 wins, including an 18-win season in 1989-90. Those 18 wins were the most single season wins in the program’s history at the time.

From 1990-93, Ward spent time as an assistant coach at Denver. While at Denver, the Pioneers improved from a losing record of 6-30-2 during the 1990-91 season to a winning record of 19-17-2 in 1992-93.

After that, it was on to the United States Hockey League (USHL), where Ward headed the Dubuque Fighting Saints from 1993-95. During his time there, Ward mentored 18 players that went on to receive NCAA Division I scholarships.

Ward then made the jump to the National Hockey League (NHL), spending three years with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1997-2000 as an assistant coach. As a part of the Penguins, Ward oversaw a defensive corps that topped the NHL in goals against average (2.59) in 1997-98 and coached star players, Jarmoir Jagr and Ron Francis.

From 2002-05, Ward was on the bench at the University of Wisconsin as an associate head coach. During that time, the Badgers went 58-50-16, collecting 20-plus win seasons in 2003-04 and 2004-05. Ward was instrumental in recruiting the talented classes that helped the Badgers win the 2006 NCAA national championship, a feat unmatched by the program since that time.

At Wisconsin, Ward helped recruit Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski – who has been in the NHL since 2006 and has helped the Stars reach the Western Conference Finals, as well as Brian Elliott. This past year, Elliot saw action in 22 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Sandwiched around his time at Wisconsin, Ward had two stints in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), one with the Trenton Titans (2000-2001) and a second stop with the Victoria Salmon Kings (2005-06). While with Trenton, Ward captured the North Conference title and was voted the ECHL Coach of the Year.

Ward was an assistant coach with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League (AHL) from 2007-08, serving as the team’s defensive coordinator, with responsibilities including spearheading the penalty kill. Ward then added front office duties on top of his on-ice coaching duties, as he also served as the Aeros Assistant General Manager from 2008-10.

The experience with the Aeros created another opportunity, as Ward went on to serve as an assistant with the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL from 2010-11 before earning head coaching responsibilities from 2011-14. While in Abbotsford, Ward developed eight players that played in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs for the Calgary Flames. During his tenure, the Heat amassed a record of 119-83 that included a pair of playoff appearances.

Ward was then with the Vancouver Giants (WHL, 2014) and the Madison Capitols (USHL, 2015-2016), before taking the helm with the Linz Black Wings (August 2017-Jan. 2019) of the International Central European Hockey League, leading the squad to the semifinals of the EBL in 2018. More recently, Ward spent time from 2019-2022 as a US Amateur Scout with the Vancouver Canucks.

As a coach with such a diverse background in hockey, Ward will now have the opportunity to share his insights and help build a new group of athletes into a strong Maverick men’s hockey team.