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MN Wilderness hire associate head coach

The final piece of the Minnesota Wilderness coaching staff puzzle is in place with the hiring of Brett Skinner as associate head coach.

Skinner is a Brandon, Manitoba, native who has been the assistant coach of the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL for the last five seasons. Prior to his coaching career, Skinner played 12 seasons of professional hockey, including 11 games in the NHL with the New York Islanders in 2008-09. He also had a very decorated collegiate career, winning two national championships over three seasons with the University of Denver. Skinner also claimed WCHA first-team all-star and NCAA second team All-America honors in the 2004-05 season.

Skinner’s time in Sioux Falls was spent under the tutelage of head coaches Scott Owens and Marty Murray. He and Owens helped guide the Stampede to a Clark Cup championship in 2018-19.

“I feel ready for the opportunity after working for two coaches like that,” Skinner said. “Both have great hockey minds and have different approaches to the game. It was great to sit back and learn from both of them.”

The Wilderness ownership team of Chris Trapp and Joe Dusek issued a joint statement welcoming Skinner and his wife, Katie, to the organization.

“As we enter our 10th year of operation with Dave Boitz as head coach and GM, we felt it was important to find additional coaching expertise that shares the same passion for player development, on-ice success, and community involvement as Dave. Brett certainly fits that mold perfectly.”

Skinner said he is excited to make the move to Cloquet and get things rolling for the new season. “Being in the USHL, you scout and recruit the NAHL, and you know what kind of job the Wilderness have done. It’s just a great opportunity for me to be part of the development process for the kids, while understanding the impressive history of the Wilderness program.”

Skinner joins Boitz and recently hired assistant coach Kyle Brodie on the coaching staff.

The 2022-23 campaign kicks off later this month with training camp opening on Aug. 29, and the season debut set for Sept. 9-10 at home vs. Fairbanks.