By Kevin Scott
GREAT FALLS, Mont., April 28, 2021 — The Great Falls Americans, a member of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) are pleased to announce the hiring of Matt Maniglia as the new Associate Coach for the Junior A hockey team for the upcoming 2021-22 season.
He is a familiar face to Americans fans and players as he was a member of the Great Falls Americans team during the 2019-20 season as a goaltender. After his junior hockey eligibility came to an end, he was planning on attending college and playing hockey collegiately, but COVID-19 disrupted those plans, and the college hockey season was cancelled. Great Falls Americans Head Coach and General Manager Greg Sears stepped in and offered him a position as the Goaltenders Coach. He was able to help the likes of Trever Mellen and Ben Winkler become better in the net this past season.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Matt played high school hockey and then spent two years with the United States Premier Hockey League’s (USPHL) Florida Eels from 2016-18. He spent a year each with the Jersey Shore Whalers and the New York Aviators, both affiliated with the USPHL from 2018-20 before joining the Great Falls Americans of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) during the 2019-20 season making an appearance in three contests (1-1-0-0 record). The newly promoted member of the Americans coaching staff’s lone win in the net came on February 21, 2020 where he helped them defeat the Missoula Junior Bruins (30 saves), 3-2 in Missoula, Montana.
He also was coached by Greg Sears when he was with the Florida Eels and stated that he was one of his favorite coaches he has played for.
Matt looks forward to interacting with the players even though it is different being a teammate to coaching them. “I love the ability to help share the knowledge of the game I have developed over the years and help them improve to play at higher levels (of hockey),” said the new Associate Coach for the Americans.
“I am very happy to have Matthew on board for the 2021-22 season,” said Great Falls Americans Head Coach and General Manager, Greg Sears about his former player and promoted coach. “He is very young and hungry in the profession and will do a good job for us.”
His coaching goals include preparing the players to get better each game while also developing as a coach with positive results coming on the ice with the goal of bringing home a championship to Great Falls.
It has been an easy transition from being a player to coach and the team has made it that way. It was a different relationship when he was a player but not much has changed as they treat him like any other coach.
The former New York resident likes being in Great Falls and the community. “Great Falls is my favorite place I have played in my (hockey) career. The fans and community as a whole is just so such a welcoming place to be and everywhere I have played, there was never this type of environment,” said Maniglia.
Maniglia replaces Kirk Golden, who became the Head Coach and General Manager of the NA3HL’s Butte Cobras in March 2021, a rival in the Frontier Division to Great Falls after spending last season on the bench with the Americans.
He begins his duties as the assistant to head coach Greg Sears immediately after last season’s stint as the Americans Goaltender Coach.
Prior to Golden’s hiring, former Great Falls Americans Assistant Coach Ethan Hayes served under the direction of head coach Greg Sears for two seasons beginning with the 2018-19 season before being named the Head Coach and General Manager of the North American 3 Hockey League’s (NA3HL) Frontier Division Gillette (WY) Wild in January 2020.
Click here for Matthew’s player history and click here for his statistics as a player with the Great Falls Americans.
Additional Media Coverage: April 26, 2021: ABC/FOX MONTANA (KFBB): Assistant Coach, scouting staff member announced for Great Falls Americans Hockey team