First-year University of Maine hockey coach Ben Barr wants his staff members to be able to maximize their abilities.
He feels that one way to do that is by reducing their responsibilities and workloads.
“I don’t want people having to wear six or seven different hats,” Barr said.
To that end, UMaine has hired Matthew Vanden Berg to serve as the director of player development.
It is a volunteer position and he won’t be on the ice because Division I teams are allowed to have just one volunteer assistant coach with on-ice responsibilities. Former UMaine winger Danny Perez was recently hired as the volunteer assistant.
Barr explained that Vanden Berg will have a number of responsibilities including serving as the video coordinator and statistical analyst.
That was the role held by Sean Michael Walsh, son of the late legendary UMaine head coach Shawn Walsh. Sean Michael Walsh left to become an assistant coach with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League this past summer.
Vanden Berg will also help Paul Culina with his duties as the director of hockey operations. Culina is also the athletic trainer for the team.
“We’re the only program in Hockey East that doesn’t have a full-time director of hockey operations,” said Barr, who wants Culina to devote himself to being an athletic trainer without the additional director of hockey operations responsibilities.
Vanden Berg will help out with strength and conditioning as well.
Vanden Berg, who was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been a coach, a scout and served in player development for the past nine years. He has coached at the national midget AAA level for organizations including Team Carolina, the Milwaukee Jr Admirals, and, most recently, the Phoenix Jr Coyotes prior to joining UMaine.
He was a scout for the Fargo Force of the USHL and the Maryland Blackbears of the NAHL.
His specialty is player development on and off the ice, and he has focused on tailoring specific athletic and skills training to student-athletes of all ages.
He has served as a professional player development video coach working with players of all levels including NHL, AHL, NCAA and Midget.
Vanden Berg earned his master’s degree in Sports Industry Business from Northeastern University, an MBA from Marquette University, and is currently working on his Doctorate degree in Organizational Leadership from Creighton University.
Barr is elated to have him on board.
“He is very, very knowledgeable and he is a workaholic. He wants to be a college coach,” Barr said.