The University of Alaska-Anchorage announced on Wednesday that the contract of head coach Matt Thomas will not be renewed.
Thomas served five seasons as head coach for the Seawolves. His tenure began in 2013-2014, the first year of the realigned WCHA, when he posted a career-best 18-16-4 record, and won a WCHA playoff series to advance to the Final Five.
But with the greater financial constraints of losing out in college hockey’s realignment, combined with a drop in oil prices that put the program’s future in jeopardy, the situation quickly deteriorated. The Seawolves missed the WCHA playoff each of the last four seasons, culminating with this year’s 4-26-4 campaign that was arguably one of the worst seasons in recent college hockey history. It’s difficult to assign too much of the blame for that to Thomas’ coaching, giving the difficulties of coaching in Anchorage, but at the same time, Plan B likely couldn’t do any worse.
The next coach in Anchorage will certainly have their work cut out for them. The problems that plagued Thomas’ teams, including questions on the future of the program, remain unchanged, making the situation difficult, if not impossible. It’s a critical hire for the Seawolves because they will need to find someone that can beat the odds to inject some life into their program.