Madtown Hockey, LLC, the ownership group of the USHL’s new Member Club in Madison, Wisconsin, announced that Steve Miller has been named as the first head coach and general manager in team history. The team will begin play during the 2014-15 USHL regular season at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Alliant Energy Center.
Miller is a native of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin and has spent the last 20 years on the coaching staff at the University of Denver and is currently the hockey program’s associate head coach alongside first-year head coach Jim Montgomery who spent the last three seasons in the USHL coaching the Dubuque Fighting Saints.
Miller has served primarily as the recruiting coordinator and worked with the Pioneers defense while assisting with video breakdown and game analysis. During his tenure at Denver, he helped lead the Pioneers to back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2004 and 2005, three WCHA regular-season championships and four WCHA Final Five crowns. Miller has recruited and coached 41 NHL Draft picks, 55 All-WCHA honorees, 12 World Junior Championship participants, 13 All-Americans, one Hobey Baker Award winner, four WCHA Student-Athletes of the Year, three WCHA Defensive Players of the Year, two WCHA MVPs, one WCHA Rookie of the Year, and two Frozen Four Most Outstanding Players.
“We interviewed dozens of qualified coaches, but Steve stood out amongst them all,” said co-owner Tom Garrity. “His resume speaks for itself and we were very impressed with his vision and plan for Madtown Hockey. He is a Wisconsin native who is very familiar with the USHL and knows what it takes to put a winning product onto the ice.”
The Pioneers have averaged over 23 wins per season during Miller’s tenure, including at least 20 wins in each of the last 12 seasons, which is the longest-such streak nationally entering the 2013-14 campaign. He has coached a number of USHL alumni at Denver, including current NHL players Chris Butler (Calgary Flames), Matt Carle (Tampa Bay Lightning), Matt Donovan (New York Islanders), Paul Stastny (Colorado Avalanche), Patrick Wiercioch (Ottawa Senators), and Jason Zucker (Minnesota Wild).
"I would like to thank the Madison organization for this great opportunity, said Miller. “Specifically, I would like to thank Jeff Krol, Charlie Bidwell, Saul Treiman, Brian Schoenborn, and Tom Garrity for giving me my first head coaching position. I am thrilled to lead Madison in their return to the premier junior hockey league in the United States, the USHL. I look forward to the challenge of building a winning program and can't wait to return to the great city of Madison and get started."
The new Madison team marks the return of USHL hockey to the city after nearly twenty years. The city was first part of the League for 11 seasons (1984-95), competing first as the Madison Capitols (1984-91) and then as the Wisconsin Capitols (1991-95). The Capitols won over 200 games during their time in Madison, including a team record 33 games in both the 1986-87 and 1988-89 seasons under coach Scott Owens, the now long-time head coach at Colorado College.
A total of 12 USHL players who played in Madison would go on to be selected in the NHL Draft, in addition to numerous players that would earn NCAA Division I opportunities. Former NHL defenseman Brian Rafalski spent the 1990-91 season in the USHL with the Madison Capitols before staying in town to play collegiately at the University of Wisconsin. He would then embark on an 11-year NHL career that included winning three Stanley Cups, the most by any USHL alum. Derek Plante was part of the Madison team for the 1988-89 season and would become the second-ever USHL alum to win the Stanley Cup when he did so in 1999 with the Dallas Stars.
Miller played for the original Madison Capitols during their inaugural season of 1984-85. He went to a collegiate career at St. Mary's University of Minnesota where he earned a bachelor of arts in public administration. Miller played three years of varsity hockey, collecting honors as most inspirational player his sophomore and senior year, and was named most improved player as a sophomore. He helped St. Mary's to its first MIAC championship in 23 years and the team also set a school record for victories in a season (22) that still stands today.
He returned to his alma mater to begin his coaching career and helped them capture the 1989 MIAC playoff championship and reach the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. Prior to his arrival at Denver, Miller was an assistant coach at Miami University from 1991 to 1994 and was a big part of the program’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament in 1993.
Miller joins a number of former Madison players have gone on to successful coaching careers, including current Team USA head coach Don Granato who also had a coaching stint with the team during the 1993-94 season. Mark Osiecki played with the Capitols in 1986-87 before his collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin. He would return to the USHL as head coach of the Green Bay Gamblers (1997-2004). Mike Corbett played two USHL seasons in Madison (1990-92), and after spending the last decade on the coaching staff at the Air Force Academy, he is in his first season as head coach at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.
Miller was inducted into the Sun Prairie High School Wall of Success in the summer of 2008. He earned the prestigious American Hockey Coaches Association's 2009 Terry Flanagan Award which recognizes an assistant coaches' career body of work.
Miller and his wife, Heidi, have three children, daughter Alexis (13), and sons, Cole (11) and Connor (9). He plans to finish the calendar year at the University of Denver and begin his duties in Madison in January.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)