Shane Wagner introduced as Tauros head coach
Stationed in front of a computer screen on Wednesday, Shane Wagner conducted his first press conference as the newest head coach and general manager of the Minot Minotauros through a Zoom conference call.
Wagner replaces Marty Murray, who moved on to take the general manager and head coaching job with the Sioux Falls Stampede in the United States Hockey League. Wagner becomes the third head coach and general manager in Minotauros’ history.
“I’m really excited,” Wagner said. “I can’t thank Marty enough for what he has taught me over the last three years. He really showed me how to be a leader.”
Wagner spent last season living with Minotauros owner/governor Brad Porter, so it’s fair to say the interview process was lengthy and rather invasive.
“As part-time roommates last year, I was able to see first-hand Shane’s dedication to his family, his craft and the game,” Porter said in a press release. “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.”
Wagner’s first and only head coaching job was a three-season stint (2012-15) with the Hudson Crusaders, now relocated and renamed to the River Falls Renegades. Wagner bolstered a 70-58-10 overall record.
He also spent one season as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Magicians before joining the Minotauros coaching staff as an assistant coach for the past three seasons.
Prior to coaching, Wagner had a 10-year college and pro hockey career, played junior hockey and was a standout at Stillwater High School in Minnesota. He played his junior hockey with the Butte Irish in the America West Hockey League from 2000-02 before the league merged to become a part of the North American Hockey League.
Wagner moved on to play college hockey at NCAA Division III Hamline University in Minnesota. Then, he played six seasons with three different teams in the Southern Professional Hockey League. Wagner recorded 14 goals and 91 assists in 253 games played.
“Every year, you learn something new,” Wagner said. “I thought I was ready right out of the pros because I wanted it right away. But, I’m kind of glad it didn’t happen right away. I’ve learned a lot.”
While wanting to utilize teachings from his former stops, Wagner has also undeniably absorbed plenty of information from Murray. The most notable being how to handle team dynamics in the locker room and player motivations.
“(Murray) wasn’t a big rah-rah kind of guy, but he would hold guys accountable,” Wagner said. “If a player was playing at 90%, (Murray) was able to get them to 110%. It wasn’t always screaming at them or yelling at them. It was like, ‘Hey, we need better.’ That was something maybe I didn’t see in my past during my playing days — where it was more of a yelling match. But, (Murray) was really good at that, and I think that’s why he was able to push these players and get them to the Division I level.”
Wagner won’t be doing this alone.
Former part-time goaltending coach for the Minotauros and assistant coach for the Minot State men’s hockey team, Wyatt Waselenchuk, was promoted to assistant coach for the Minotauros. Waselenchuk will stay on part-time with the Beavers as a goaltending coach, but MSU will have to find a new assistant coach.
“(Waselenchuk) was the first guy that I thought of for guys I wanted to bring on,” Wagner said. “He is great with the guys and knows the community. Deep down, he has a good eye for talent. Sometimes it takes us a while to figure players out, and he can hit the nail on the head right away with some of our players.”
The rest of the Minotauros hockey operations team will remain in place.
Director of operations Ken Oda will take on more of the non-hockey operations roles that Murray handled while at the helm.
“It allows Shane and Wyatt, in their new roles, to focus on the on-ice product and not necessarily worry about how much we are selling hoodies for or other merchandise,” Oda said. “Now that we have brought Peter (Theodos) and Rob (Seimens) into the front office, the three of us along with Brad (Porter) can handle the non-hockey stuff. We have an army of volunteers who help with all of that stuff as well. There is no reason to dump that onto the head coach’s plate.”
Oda continued: “I don’t think there were many head coaches that were involved in the business side as much as Marty (Murray) was. That just speaks to how important Marty was to the organization.”
Wagner and company now hold the reins. He is optimistic that the future for the Minotauros remains bright.
“I have confidence in the guys we will have back,” Wagner said. “We have a really good team coming back and a good group of recruits. Our goal, like it is every year, is to win the division and go from there. Our division is one of the best in the league. So, it’s going to be tough, but I think we have the squad to do it.”
Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.