Wagner Takes the Helm
by Ken Oda
Minot, ND - Yesterday Shane Wagner was elevated from Assistant Coach to become the third Head Coach and General Manager in Minotauros history. Wagner spent the last three seasons as outgoing Head Coach Marty Murray's assistant and helped take the Tauros to the 2018 Robertson Cup Championship game. Prior to joining the Tauros staff Wagner spent three seasons as the Head Coach of the Hudson Crusaders of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League and one season as an assistant for the NAHL's Minnesota Magicians.
Having spent the last season living with Minotauros Owner/Governor Brad Porter Wagner had perhaps the longest most invasive interview process in hockey history. Porter referenced that when discussing why he chose to offer the job to Wagner, "As part time roommates last year I was able to see first-hand Shane's dedication to his family, his craft, and the game. All the outstanding qualities shared with another man who built our organization for the past ten years. Shane has also been a big part of our recent successes and I firmly believe he will ensure that our journey continues in the right direction."
After a difficult first season taking over the Hudson Crusaders he went 55-25-8 over his final two seasons behind the bench for a career 70-58-10 record. Having been in Minot for the last three seasons as an assistant there should not be the difficult transition as he has already helped to shape the roster.
Prior to coaching Wagner was the Captain of Stillwater High School (MN) and then played his junior hockey for the Butte Irish of the America West Hockey League from 2000 to 2002. Like the NAHL the AWHL was a Tier II USA Hockey junior league that included the Bismarck Bobcats and Fairbanks Ice Dogs; the AWHL eventually merged with the NAHL in 2003, the season after Wagner left. From Butte Wagner moved on to play at NCAA DIII Hamline University where he played four seasons and again wore the Captain's "C" his senior season (2005-06). He then played six seasons with three teams in the Southern Professional Hockey League recording 14 goals and 91 assists over 253 games. For three of those six seasons he served as his team's Captain and won the SPHL's President's Cup in his final professional season.
After his ten year college and pro career followed by six years behind the bench Wagner believes he is ready to take the next step. "I thought I was ready right after I finished playing; but after spending time in Minot I realized I wasn't. When I got here and started to learn the organization from Marty, the front office, and our scouting staff, I came to realize how much work is needed. I'm a big believer everything happens for a reason, and I'm grateful for those years I had with Marty and feel more ready than ever."
His mentor Marty Murray who departs Minot for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL also believes Wagner is ready: "I'm very happy for Shane to be named Head Coach of the Tauros. He taught me a lot in working with him for the last three years and I have no doubt he will be successful. He works very hard, can make in game adjustments, and is loved by his players. What initially drew me to Shane, was that he was always a team first guy. He is a true professional and it was a pleasure to work with him."
Of course, Wagner will not be facing his new challenge alone. Part-time Assistant and Goaltending Coach Wyatt Waselenchuk will be joining the Tauros staff full-time as Wagner's primary Assistant Coach. Waselenchuk has spent the last four seasons both as the primary Assistant Coach at his alma matter Minot State in the ACHA and as the part time goalie coach for the Minotauros. As a player at MSU Waselenchuk backstopped the Beavers to their first National Championship and was behind the bench when they won their second last season. MSU Head Coach Wade Regier praised Waselenchuk who will stay on part-time with MSU as well, "Today is a very bittersweet day for our program. Wyatt has been an integral part of our program ever since he came to our campus in 2010 as a player. He has been a big part of the success of our program since he transitioned to coaching in 2016. Although we lose him full time, we are excited he will still be assisting with our goalies in the future."
For his part Waselenchuk is excited for the new challenge, "This opportunity is something that I had not expected to come so soon, but I am incredibly excited for this expanded role. Having worked alongside the goaltenders and being around the team in a part-time capacity has opened my eyes to just how good the caliber of the NAHL is. It is an honor to have been chosen by our organization to fill this role, with so many fantastic candidates out there."
Aside Wagner and Waselenchuk accepting promotions the rest of the Minotauros hockey ops team remains in place. Assistant General Manager Chris Lonke will continue to head the hardest working scouting staff in the NAHL. For Lonke the decision was quick, "staying was fairly easy in the sense that we are still building and developing a highly attractive Junior product; and everyone knows our owner Brad Porter is very passionate about keeping that rolling. I know Marty feels really good about us all staying and that was important to him as well." Lonke feels the continuity with the staff will help Wagner and Waselenchuk adjust as well, "Shane, Wyatt, and I have worked closely together for three years now. That should make the transition fairly smooth as we get to work together."
Wagner was quick to thank many who have put him in the position to reach this goal, "first of all, I have to thank Marty for giving me the opportunity to be his assistant and allowing me to travel back and forth and Mr. Porter for giving me the job and now the opportunity to be the HC. I am extremely grateful for what they have done for us. Then I have to thank my extend family (Mother, Mother in-law, sister) who has help us out with our family while I was gone. Finally, my beautiful wife, who stayed in MN while I traveled back and forth with our two extremely busy kids. I couldn't have done any of this without her!"
Waselenchuk also had several people to thank, "There would be a lot of people to thank- Marty first and foremost for showing me the ropes and taking a chance on me 4 years ago. He has taught me a lot, and has become a great role model and friend. He has done so much for this organization- it is truly hard to believe he will be leaving, but I certainly know he will have incredible success in Sioux Falls.
I'd also like to thank Brad Porter, Chris Lonke, and Shane Wagner Having their faith in me to join the team full-time means a lot. Next would be Wade Regier for the support and guidance in making this tough decision; having coached along side Wade the past four seasons with MSU has been incredible. Last but certainly not least I'd like to thank my fiancée Nora and both of our families for the overwhelming support they have had for me in my career."
Wagner will be reintroduced to the Minot media this afternoon with a digital press conference at 3:00 p.m. which will stream to the Minotauros Facebook and Youtube pages. Wagner and Lonke will both be on Tauros Weekly next Wednesday to preview the NAHL Supplemental Draft.
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North American Hockey League Stories from April 29, 2020
- Mudbugs Tender Drake Morse for 2020-21 Season - Shreveport Mudbugs
- Wagner Takes the Helm - Minot Minotauros
- Titans Forward Shane Haviland Makes NCAA Commitment to Elmira College - New Jersey Titans
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