Wilderness hire new coach
June 16, 2023
It didn't take long for the Minnesota Wilderness to fill its coaching vacancy.
The Cloquet-based North American Hockey League franchise announced Colten St. Clair as the sixth head coach in team history in a news release late last week. His hiring comes just one week after Brett Skinner departed to lead the coaching staff of the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League.
St. Clair, 30, has spent the last two seasons as associate head coach of the USHL's Sioux City Musketeers. In his first season with Sioux City, he helped guide the team to a championship.
"I'm really excited," St. Clair said. "Mr. (Barry) Bohman (Wilderness owner) and Mr. (David) Boitz (Wilderness general manager) gave me the chance to learn and grow to carry on the tradition and bring another championship to the Wilderness."
Prior to joining the Musketeers staff, St. Clair spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL, one season as a volunteer assistant with the University of Maine, and was introduced to the coaching ranks with the Phoenix Knights of the Western States Hockey League.
In his first campaign as a head coach, a then-25-year-old St. Clair took a team that won five games the year before to 28 wins in 2017-18. That turnaround earned him the distinction of being the youngest coach ever to win the WSHL's coach of the year award.
"Colten is an outstanding young coach," Boitz said. "We are extremely excited to bring him in to be our next head coach. Based on his passion for the game, commitment and organization, we felt that Colten was by far our first choice among a very talented group of applicants."
After a successful run to the league semifinals last season, it's been a busy offseason for the Wilderness, who participated in the NAHL draft on Wednesday as they moved toward building their roster for the 2023-24 campaign. The draft was open to hockey players 20 and under not already tendered by league teams. The Wilderness had the 25th pick in the first round, and were expected to select 13 players.