VANCOUVER, BC – Head coaches are on the move in U SPORTS men’s hockey, as the OUA’s Brock Badgers and AUS’s Moncton Aigles-Bleus confirmed they would have new bosses on the bench this season.
On Thursday, the Brock Badgers announced former NCAA Division I assistant coach T.J. Manastesky ahead of the 2022-23 OUA U SPORTS season, while Moncton announced that Judes Vallée would step back from his duties, sparking a search for a new coach.
T.J. Manastersky takes over Badgers
An Oakville, Ont native, Manatersky takes over the Badgers program from interim head coach Kevin Forrest, who helped Brock to the U CUP quarterfinals, after stepping in for Marty Williamson, who had left for the OHL’s Barrie Colts.
Coming from Union College, Manastersky will test himself in U SPORTS for the first time in his career. However, he comes to the league with family connections, having a father who coached the York Lions and uncles who laced up for the Queen’s Gaels.
“I’ve been a fan of U SPORTS my entire life,” Manastersky said in a Brock press release. “The opportunity to coach at that level and pursue a national championship is a dream come true.”
In addition to his time with Union College, Manastersky has coached the Hungarian U18 National Team and NCAA III Curry College. He also worked with SUNY-Fredonia and Canisius.
Coming to Brock after the program’s return to the University Cup puts Manastersky in a challenging position from his first practice with the group. Additionally, with the lack of experience in OUA hockey and working with older, non-U20 athletes, there will be an adjustment period for the young coach.
It is a big year for the Badgers after their successful, albeit underdog, 2021-22 run to the OUA Queen’s Cup Final. With a returning core, the Badgers move to the new arena at Canada Games Park, vacating their off-campus abode at the Seymour-Hannah Centre.
“We are excited to have T.J. join our Brock Badgers family as our new head coach of our men’s hockey program,” said Melissa Krist, Director, Brock Sports in the release. “He brings high performance, world-class expertise that will provide our student-athletes consistent leadership both on and off the ice in the development of our future leaders.”
Sources told 49 Sports that student-athletes were involved in conversations with candidates for the role, and many are not pleased with Manastersk’s appointment. Additional sources also confirmed to 49 Sports that a Toronto Varsity Blues assistant coach was in the running and the preferred candidate among players.
Although inexperienced in U SPORTS, Manastersky is a talented and highly-regarded coach and a certain big get for the Badgers as they enter a new era and look to establish themselves as a perennial contender in U SPORTS hockey.
Judes Vallée steps down as Moncton Head Coach
Just as Brock filled their vacant head coaching position, the Moncton Aigles-Bleu find themselves with an empty spot, as Judes Vallée resigned as head coach after leading the team since 2017.
Wanting to be closer to his family, particularly his wife’s grandchildren, the 54-year-old left the position after helping Moncton to the AUS semi-final in his final season, narrowly losing to the UNB Reds.
“It’s a difficult decision for me because we had started something good here,” Vallée told Radio-Canada (translated).”People have been so good to me here in Acadie. It was a dream for me to lead a university team.”
Vallée did not have a stellar record as a head coach, with 36 wins, 62 losses and 16 OT losses, but he played an integral role in building the program to where it is today, landing major recruits and on the verge of U CUP qualification.
Well-liked among the student-athletes, Vallée’s departure leaves a void at the top of the men’s hockey program, and one that will have to be filled quickly with the 2022-23 season fast approaching.
Moncton begins its regular-season schedule on Oct. 5 v UPEI and has not announced their process for hiring a new head coach.