Fresh off its best season in the program's brief three-year history, Lenawee United hockey will have a new coach for the 2022-23 season.
The program announced Wednesday its decision to name Matthew Winkelseth the next head coach of Lenawee hockey.
"We are excited to announce the hiring of Matt Winkelseth as the next head coach for our varsity program," the program said in a post on the hire. "Matt brings over 30 years of coaching experience within MHSAA ice hockey and lacrosse."
Winkelseth spent the last three seasons leading the Ann Arbor Huron program while also having stints with Pontiac Notre Dame Prep as well as coaching experience with Tier 1 Little Caesar's and Belle Tire and also Tier 2 Ann Arbor Wolves. He has also coached lacrosse at Saline and Huron and also a stint as an assist with Adrian College.
During his time recently with the River Rats, Winkelseth got an up close look at United as an opposing coach.
"Having coached against them the last three years I had an opportunity to watch them grow," Winkelseth said. "It's a program that's ready to flourish."
Lenawee had its first real taste of success last season, going 15-10-1 a year ago and winning its first postseason game in program history.
"These kids are so creative," Winkelseth said. "I tend to not hamstring them into playing a certain system. What I like to do is say we need to move the puck or we need to skate and we need to put constant pressure on a team. With those three philosophies, let's go get 'em. Follow these three guidelines and let's go out there, create and play.
"We will teach the basic hockey IQ things of why we do things and then allow them to create within those rules."
Winkelseth will be taking over a program that is not only coming off of its best season, but is returning a lot of skaters to the ice.
Adam Bartlett of Clinton had 12 goals and nine assists in his freshman season and will be Lenawee's top returner in points.
Tecumseh's Seamus McCarley had seven goals and 10 assists in his sophomore season.
The team's senior leaders will be Tecumseh's Aldo Barba, who had nine goals and seven assists as a defenseman and Madison's Cameron Boyzk, who had six goals and 10 assists. Clinton defenseman Logan DeVitto will also return to the ice for his final season.
"I know we have a good core of kids coming back," Winkelseth said. "We have a very nice freshman class coming in. Based on seeing some of these kids the last two or three years, I'm super excited for the direction of the program."
Possibly keeping the program back since the start has been the lack of consistent direction from the bench.
Donnie Cooper led the program in the inaugural season and went 6-19 before Tyler Textor took over and went 0-8 in the COVID season before going 5-5 to start the 2021-22 season.
Textor and his staff were dismissed during the holiday break in the season and Zachary Willis took over, going 10-5-1 the rest of the season, including a 3-2 win against Temperance Bedford in the MHSAA Division 1 regional.
"It's so tough for people to commit," Winkelseth said. "I have a track record of being places for an extended period of time. I want to build something here that carries on. I consider this my last coaching job. That's what I'm looking to do and get us where we need to be."
This article originally appeared on The Daily Telegram: Winkelseth tabbed as next Lenawee United hockey head coach