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 Dubuque Fighting Saints

MacDonald Departs Dubuque to Lead Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

June 19, 2024 - United States Hockey League (USHL)
Dubuque Fighting Saints News Release

DUBUQUE, IA - Fighting Saints Head Coach Kirk MacDonald has announced his departure from the Fighting Saints after two seasons with the team to take over as Head Coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League.

MacDonald joined the Saints after a tenure with the ECHL's Reading Royals and made an impact immediately, winning a playoff series in his first season.

In 2023-24, MacDonald took the Fighting Saints to new heights and led Dubuque to its first Eastern Conference championship since 2016. MacDonald's second-year players were exceptional last season, led by captain Jake Sondreal and the USHL's leading goal scorer Noah Powell.

"The last two seasons in Dubuque have been the most rewarding of my coaching career. The relationships my family and I have made here will last a lifetime," said MacDonald. "I want to thank Brad Kwong and Kalle Larsson for the opportunity to lead this team, I wouldn't be moving on to the AHL without this experience."

"I want to thank my staff: Blake Swindall, Nicole Vogel, Josh Starr, Jared Bussard, Brett Boeing, Zach Badalamenti, Alex Kromm, and most importantly Evan Dixon," continued MacDonald. "You are only as good as the people you work with and I couldn't have asked for a better group of people. Thank you to all of the players over the last two years, it's their effort and willingness to work hard everyday that made us successful. Lastly, and certainly not least, I'd like to thank my wife for the unending support throughout my career. We certainly wouldn't be here without it. We are excited for the next chapter, but will look back on our time in Dubuque with great memories."

Overall, MacDonald led the Fighting Saints to a 73-37-8-6 record over the regular season and won three total playoff series in two seasons.

"When we hired Kirk, he brought some of the integral traits the Fighting Saints look for such as hockey IQ and a high level of understanding of systems," stated managing partner Brad Kwong. "But in Dubuque, I believe Kirk advanced his skill as a communicator and enhanced his abilities as a developer of elite talent. For that reason I believe he will be an excellent coach at the pro level and a huge asset to the Penguins' organization."

Under MacDonald, the Fighting Saints had both group and individual success, especially in 2023-24. In his final season, the Fighting Saints had five players named to All-USHL Teams and two named to the All-Academic team.

"Kirk is an excellent developer of players. He also finds a way to maximize team output every game. From day one, he bought into the style of hockey we play in Dubuque and with his attention to detail and preparation, he made Saints hockey even better," said former general manager and president of hockey operations Kalle Larsson, who recently took an advancement opportunity himself. "His growth as a coach these past two seasons has been exciting to follow, and we are proud of his advancement to the AHL. Best of luck Kirk, and thank you for your hard work and dedication to the Fighting Saints!"

MacDonald departs Dubuque after two successful seasons at the helm.

"We couldn't be happier for Kirk and his family," stated Saints general manager Trevord Edwards. "He has put his heart and soul into the Dubuque Fighting Saints over the past two years, developing both his players and staff members. I'm confident that he will do a great job with the Penguins' prospects moving forward. We wish him all the best."

Infromation regarding the Fighting Saints' head coaching position will be announced later this week.

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