University of Maine freshman hockey coach Ben Barr wants his staff to be able to maximize their abilities.
He thinks that one way to do this is to reduce their responsibilities and their workload.
âI don’t want people to have to wear six or seven different hats,â Barr said.
To this end, UMaine has hired Matthew Vanden Berg to serve as Director of Player Development.
This is a volunteer position and will not be on the ice because Division I teams are allowed to have only one volunteer assistant coach with responsibilities on the ice. Former UMaine winger Danny Perez was recently hired as a volunteer assistant.
Barr explained that Vanden Berg will have a number of responsibilities, including as a video coordinator and statistical analyst.
It was the role played by Sean Michael Walsh, son of the late legendary UMaine head coach Shawn Walsh. Sean Michael Walsh left to become an assistant coach with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League last summer.
Vanden Berg will also assist Paul Culina in his role as Director of Hockey Operations. Culina is also the team’s sports coach.
âWe’re the only program in Hockey East that doesn’t have a full-time director of hockey operations,â said Barr, who wants Culina to focus on being a sports coach without the added responsibilities of director of hockey operations.
Vanden Berg will also help with strength and conditioning.
Vanden Berg, who was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has coached, scouted and served in player development for the past nine years. He coached at the national midget AAA level for organizations such as Team Carolina, the Milwaukee Jr Admirals and most recently the Phoenix Jr Coyotes before joining UMaine.
He was a scout for the USHL Fargo Force and the NAHL Maryland Blackbears.
His specialty is the development of players on and off the ice, and he has focused on adapting athletic training and specific skills to student-athletes of all ages.
He has been a professional player development video coach working with players of all skill levels including the NHL, AHL, NCAA and Midget.
Vanden Berg received his Masters in Sports Industry Commerce from Northeastern University, an MBA from Marquette University and is currently working on his PhD in Organizational Leadership at Creighton University.
Barr is delighted to have him on board.
âHe’s very, very knowledgeable and a workaholic. He wants to be a varsity coach, âBarr said.