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Luke Strand adds longtime coach and Sioux City GM Troy Ward as Minnesota State's new associate head coach

Troy Ward brings a lengthy resume and a ton of familiarity to Mankato as he and Luke Strand reunite behind the Minnesota State bench

Minnesota State Mankato logo

MANKATO, Minn. — Luke Strand and Troy Ward have crossed paths many times over the years.

Now the two are connected again as Strand has hired the fellow University of Wisconsin — Eau Claire alum as his associate head coach at Minnesota State.

“Troy brings an element to our staff that is one of high-end experience," Strand said in a statement Monday afternoon. "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, 60, was the general manager of the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers this past season and brings a lengthy resume with him to Mankato.

He got his start behind the bench during the 1985-86 season at his alma mater — UW-Eau Claire — and has coached at the junior, college and professional levels over the years. Ward spent two years as an assistant in Eau Claire before spending the next three seasons as the program’s head coach.


His time in college also included three-year stints as an assistant at Denver (1990-93) and Wisconsin (2002-2005).

Besides that time in Madison, Ward’s last 30 years of coaching have included time at the USHL, WHL, ECHL, IHL, AHL and NHL levels, along with two years (2017-19) in Austria as the head coach of the Black Wings Linz. He spent three seasons as an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1997-2000.

Prior to this past season in Sioux City, Ward spent the previous three years working as an amateur scout for the Vancouver Canucks. This will be his first time coaching at the collegiate level since the 2004-05 season.

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However, it won’t be his first time sharing a bench with Strand. The two spent two seasons together with the Houston Aeros (2007-2009) and another two with the Abbotsford Heat (2011-2013).

Along with crossing paths numerous times over their years in the USHL and their ties to Wisconsin.

"It's a privilege and an honor to join the Mavericks," Ward said. "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.”

Luke Strand brings a resume with over 600 games and a Clark Cup title to Mankato, where he'll try to build on Mike Hastings' success

Minnesota State opens the 2023-24 season on Sat. Oct. 7 with an exhibition game against Omaha. Its home opener is the following Friday (Oct. 13) against St. Cloud State.

Jordan McAlpine is a junior and prospects reporter for The Rink Live.
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