Former UND captain, NHL defenseman Matt Smaby added to staff
Matt Smaby started becoming interested in coaching hockey the last few years, but he wanted to learn more.
“I asked myself, ‘Who are my favorite coaches I’ve ever played for or who are guys I respect?’ Bubs is at the top of the list,” Smaby said of UND head coach Brad Berry. “I used my time in Grand Forks the past couple of summers to pick his brain and see if he would be willing to show me some things as my playing career was going on.”
Those chats have turned into a new opportunity for the former UND captain.
Smaby has retired from his playing career after leading Munich to back-to-back championships in Germany’s top league and he will rejoin his college program as a student manager as he finishes his degree.
Smaby, who played in the NHL for four years with the Tampa Bay Lightning, said he excited to get back to campus.
“When this opportunity presented itself, I thought it was the best place to learn from one of the great coaching staffs in the country and to get my foot in the door,” Smaby said.
Smaby is familiar with most of the players on the team, because he watched UND’s games on webcast last season.
He said he hasn’t lined up specific duties yet with Berry, but said he’s “willing to learn and help out with whatever they need me to do.”
During his three years at UND, Smaby became known as a team leader and a bruising defender, perfecting hip checks along the boards.
He helped lead UND to two NCAA Frozen Fours and captained UND to a Broadmoor Cup title as Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five champions.
Smaby has been playing pro hockey for the last 11 years.
His family will move to Grand Forks with him and his wife, Jenna, plans to open a chiropractic clinic in town.
“We are really looking forward to Matt and his family coming back to Grand Forks,” Berry said. “North Dakota hockey and UND are, and always have been, a very special place for Matt. He will be a tremendous asset to our program over the next couple of years as he completes his education.”
Other staff members include associate head coach Dane Jackson, assistant coach Matt Shaw, volunteer goalie coach Matt Hrynkiw and fellow student manager Jason Ulmer, a member of the 1997 and 2000 NCAA national title teams.