Matt Erredge hasn’t lost his competitive edge, but he expects his second go-around as a high school boys hockey head coach to be a bit different than his first.
“One thing I can tell you for sure is my temperament as a head coach will be completely different than when I was younger,” Erredge said. “Between being a (referee) now myself, knowing so many refs and being in this hockey community for 20 years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes … to have the right demeanor on the bench, to calm it down and dial it back a bit.
“That doesn’t mean I won’t be competitive.”
Erredge’s second stint as a head coach started Wednesday, when he was named the boys hockey head coach at Rochester John Marshall. He’s been an assistant coach for the Rockets for 11 seasons, the past 10 under head coach Jay Ness, who resigned after the 2020-21 season.
“The biggest thing I learned from Jay is just to have that even temperament,” Erredge, an Austin native, said. “He didn’t get too worked up about anything. He appreciates the grind of getting kids ready to play. His practice plans were always really good, with a lot of focus on skating, which can get lost at the high school level.
Erredge was the head coach of the Dodge County boys for five seasons prior to his time at JM, and he served as the Dodge County girls hockey head coach prior to taking over the Wildcats’ boys program.
“When I was younger, I was still in player mode,” Erredge, who teaches at Kasson-Mantorville Elementary School, said of his time in Dodge County, “and felt like I had to win the games for the kids. Now I’m in coach mode. You put together good practice plans and help them prepare and during games, let them do their things. That’s the biggest thing.”
Ness stepped down from his position after guiding JM to 94 wins over the past 10 years. He took over in the spring of 2011 after Rockets’ legend Scott Lecy resigned. Ness guided Rochester Lourdes to three consecutive Class A state tournaments in the early 2000s, then stepped away from high school coaching for nearly a decade.
He was a three-year standout (1987-90) for the Rochester Mustangs of the USHL, playing on two national championship teams. He went on to a four-year career at NCAA Division I Lake Superior State, where he was on national championship teams in 1992 and 1994.
Ness played pro hockey briefly in the East Coast Hockey League, for the Johnstown Chiefs and the Charlotte Checkers. He then spent one season as a volunteer assistant for the Mustangs, before joining the Lourdes coaching staff in 1998. Ness held a 74-13-2 record as Lourdes' head coach, including a 28-2-1 mark in his final season, 2001-02, when the Eagles finished third at state.
Ness and Erredge guided the Rockets to a 20-7-0 overall record and a Big Nine Conference championship in the 2015-16 season. That team was led by goaltender Brady Meyers, and skilled scorers such as Brady Dahl, Isaac Lamppa and current Penn State University forward Xander Lamppa.
“I feel more of the skill development stuff in our practices will be best for our team,” Erredge said. “We’ll use that knowledge (from Ness), too, to make sure the temperament is always the same and that the locker room is a place where kids can feel comfortable.
“Jay was really good about letting me be involved in the practice planning and game planning and scouting. He let me take on a lot of head coaching responsibilities, as far as running the power play and things like that. He was great about letting the guys on his staff be involved.”
Erredge said he is still working on putting together his coaching staff and hiring assistants, though he hopes to have them in place by the end of this month. The Rockets will be on the ice for summer workouts in early June.
“I just wanted to make sure the transition is smooth and goes quickly, to reassure parents and players,” he said. “There were rumors about us not having enough guys, but we will. We have enough guys to play, to make a team.
“We’ll be ready to go. We have to get the guys on the ice in less than five weeks."