Sports stats

 Minnesota Wilderness

NA3HL Squad Hires First Coach/GM

May 1, 2024 - North American Hockey League (NAHL)
Minnesota Wilderness News Release

The new Minnesota Wilderness North American Tier 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) franchise has found who will lead the team in its premier season.

Zach Stepan has been hired as the team's first head coach and general manager. A 30-year-old from Hastings, MN, Stepan has spent six seasons as either a head coach or assistant in the NAHL, NA3HL and United States Hockey League (USHL). He spent this past season as an assistant with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL. Prior to that, Stepan spent two seasons as an assistant with two NAHL franchises-the Aberdeen Wings in 2021-22 and Chippewa Steel for a portion of the 2018-19 season. Stepan also served as head coach of the NA3HL's New Ulm Steel for two seasons from 2019-2021.

David Boitz, who is overseeing operations to launch the new Wilderness squad (while also serving as general manager of the NAHL's Wilderness franchise) said the organization is excited about bringing on Stepan for the inaugural season.

"With all of Zach's experience over the past years, first in the NA3, NA and the USHL, we feel awfully fortunate to land on a coach with his experience. Combined with his playing career and his passion and energy for the game, there is no doubt that our players are going to really benefit from his mentoring."

Stepan played high school hockey at Shattuck St. Mary's, where he scored 129 points in 104 games and won back-to-back National Championships his junior and senior years. He played one season in the USHL for Waterloo, posting 78 points in 56 games during the 2012-13 season. For his college hockey, Stepan skated four seasons at Minnesota State-Mankato before playing one season of pro hockey, with the ECHL's Orlando Solar Bears.

In international play, Stepan was the leading scorer for the gold-medal winning USA U17 team at the 2010 Five Nations Tournament in Switzerland. Stepan was also a member of the USA U19 team that won gold in the World Junior A Championship in 2012, and a member of the U20 USA World Junior team in 2013. He was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 4th round, 112th overall, in the 2012 draft.

Stepan is expected to help in the hiring of an assistant coach for the upcoming season.

The NA3HL Wilderness was established after the NAHL Wilderness' owner, Barry Bohman, acquired the Minnesota Loons, a NA3HL franchise that spent the last three seasons based in Breezy Point, MN. Bohman is moving the team to northeastern Minnesota and will be announcing where it will play its home games sometime within the upcoming weeks.

• Discuss this story on the North American Hockey League message board...

North American Hockey League Stories from May 1, 2024

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

Other Recent Minnesota Wilderness Stories

Sports Statistics from the Stats Crew
OurSports Central