( Photo Credit: Everett Fitzhugh / Cincinnati Enquirer )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Yesterday the American Hockey League Providence Bruins hired Matt Thomas to join the Boston Bruins top minor-pro affiliate as an assistant coach to work under fellow newcomer and bench boss Ryan Mougenel. As the 2021/22 regular season approaches, it seems that Providence General Manager John Ferguson Jr. is happy with the additions behind the bench as the Rhode Island club prepares for its 30th campaign as the top feeder system of the NHL B’s. Assistant Trent Whitfield, who’s been with the Providence organization for the last five seasons and presumably retains his role with the new coaching scenario. AHL Bruins, GM John Ferguson Jr. had this to say below about the hiring in the official Providence Bruins website release seen HERE.

“We are very pleased to add Matt Thomas to our staff,” said Ferguson. “His 17 years of head coaching experience will complement the fine skills and attributes of Ryan Mougenel and Trent Whitfield. We look forward to seeing their growth as a staff as the next iteration in a long tradition of successful coaching staffs with the Providence Bruins.”

Thomas has spent a great deal traveling all over North America wherever a coaching job arises and even has some familiarity with the New England area. After ending his playing career after a four-year collegiate career at Rochester Institute of Technology, Matt returned to RIT for the 1998/99 campaign as an assistant coach under Tigers Head Coach Eric Hoffberg. When Hoffberg was relieved following his 10th season as the Tigers bench boss, Thomas was the odd man out when the new and current head coach, after 22 seasons, seemingly wanted to work with his own staff.

The next two seasons before reaching the minor-pro ranks of the ECHL, Matt would spend two campaigns as assistant for the NCAA University of Maine Black Bears. Thomas had the privilege of working with former UMaine Head Coach Shawn Walsh, who passed away of cancer after 17 seasons of service to the Orono, Maine campus. Thomas also served as assistant coach to Walsh’s replacement Tim Whitehead for his last year of coaching at the NCAA level. After leaving Maine, Thomas rose to the ECHL coaching with four teams and even made an NCAA Men’s Hockey return where he was the bench boss of the University of Alaska-Anchorage club from the 2013/14 to the 2017/8 season.

In the last two seasons, Thomas was the Head Coach of the Cinncinati Cyclones, where he guided the ECHL club to an 89-30-12-4 record and now awaits his first campaign as an AHL assistant. Below in the Providence Bruins official team release and seen HERE, new Head Coach Ryan Mougenel had this to say about the new addition and one that’ll work alongside him and long-time assistant Whitfield.

“We are all thrilled to have Matt joining our staff in Providence,” said Mougenel. “Matt possesses a unique combination of high energy, innovation, and a proven eye for the game. He understands today’s athlete, and his focus on communication, teaching, and forming positive relationships speaks volumes about his values as a coach. Matt is a tremendous fit for our group and understands the Bruins’ philosophy and vision that Trent and I are growing. We are eager to work together and look forward to a seamless transition as we plan our collective approach for the upcoming season.”

This Providence season is going to be filled with multiple challenges as the coaching ranks, and the player roster is going to see significant changes. I believe the way this AHL Bruins organization and the parent NHL Bruins club work together with systems buy-ins as the highest priority when it comes to development. This upcoming 2021/22 regular season on paper is lining up to be a solid season much like the past two Covid pandemics abbreviated campaigns who’ve produced Atlantic Division Championship banners where both will be revealed at the Providence 21/22 home opener at the Dunkin’ Donut Center this coming October 16th, as the NHL Bruins top minor-pro affiliate hosts the Bridgeport Islanders.