COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Eric Rud (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.), who is in his first season as the head coach of the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede, has been named head coach of the 2022 U.S. Junior Select Team it was announced today by USA Hockey.
Rud will be joined by assistant coaches Evan Dixon (Novi, Mich.), associate head coach of the Dubuque Fighting Saints; Mike Leone (Dearborn Heights, Mich.), head coach of the Green Bay Gamblers; and Matt Smaby (Minneapolis, Minn.), head coach of the Waterloo Black Hawks.
The squad will compete in the 2022 World Junior A Challenge December 11-18 in Cornwall, Ontario.
“It’s great to have Eric leading our team and the vast experience he brings,” said Marc Boxer, general manager of the 2023 U.S. Junior Select Team and director of junior hockey at USA Hockey. “And we’re also fortunate to have a terrific group of assistant coaches and support staff in place. We’re excited about the prospects for our team and look forward to competing for a championship.”
The roster for the 2022 U.S. Junior Select Team, which will be comprised of players from the USHL, the only Tier I junior hockey league in the U.S., is expected to be named in late November.
While Rud is serving as the head coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team for the first time, he is no stranger to international competition having previously served as the head coach of the U.S. Under-17 Select Team in the 2008 Five Nations Tournament and for Team USA at the 2009 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
Rud is currently in his first season as the head coach of the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede and has guided the team to one of its best starts in recent years. He came to Sioux Falls after three years as the associate head coach at the Miami University and prior to that spent five seasons (2014-19) as the head coach of the St. Cloud State University women's hockey program where he led the Huskies to 48 victories after the squad had won only 15 times the four seasons prior to his arrival.
Additionally, he was an assistant coach at his alma mater, Colorado College, from 2011-14 after one year as the head coach and general manager for Green Bay in the USHL, where he guided the Gamblers to the Clark Cup Final. He also spent five seasons (2005-10) as an assistant coach for the St. Cloud State men's hockey team where the Huskies advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times and to the championship game of the NCAA West Regional in 2010.
Rud was a two-time team captain and two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Year for the Colorado College men’s hockey team from 1993-97. He went on to play professional hockey from 1997-2002, including serving as a player/assistant coach with the Florida Everblades in 1999-2000 and with the Idaho Steelheads from 2000-02. He joined the full-time coaching ranks as an assistant with the USHL's Cedar Rapids Roughriders from 2002-04.
Evan Dixon is making his first appearance on the coaching staff of the U.S. Junior Select Team.
Dixon is in his first season as associate head coach of the Dubuque Fighting Saints after serving the previous three seasons as an assistant coach for the team.
Dixon began his coaching career at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where he served as an assistant coach for two seasons (2017-19). He helped the Pointers to the program’s sixth national championship in 2018-19 in addition to the first-ever unbeaten season in NCAA Division III men’s ice hockey history as UWSP went 29-0-2 while allowing just 46 goals, a school record. In his first season, Dixon helped Stevens Point reached the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four.
A 2016 graduate of UW-Stevens Point, Dixon played four seasons of hockey for the Pointers and helped the team to three straight NCAA title games, including the school’s fifth national championship his senior year. He served as captain his final two seasons and all total played in 117 career games.
Following graduation, Dixon played one season with Fayetteville of the Southern Professional Hockey League before embarking on his coaching career.
Mike Leone is serving as an assistant coach for the U.S. Junior Select Team for the first time, however, has been part of the coaching staff of multiple U.S. teams in his career.
Most recently with Team USA, Leone was as an assistant coach for the 2022 U.S. Under-18 Men’s Select Team that competed at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He also served as an assistant coach for the U.S. at the 2021 and 2019 Under-17 Five Nations Tournaments, the 2019 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge and the 2021 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship.
He is currently in his first season as the head coach and general manager of the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers after having spent the previous three seasons (2019-22) as an assistant coach for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.
Prior to the NTDP, Leone served for one season (2018-19) as assistant men’s ice hockey coach at Bowling Green State University and also for one campaign (2017-18) in the same capacity for the ECHL’s Quad City Mallards.
As a player, Leone spent three seasons (2010-13) competing with the Western Michigan University men’s ice hockey team, before playing parts of four seasons professionally, including stops with the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings and Toledo Walleye, in addition to one season with Villard-de-Lans in France.
Matt Smaby is making his first appearance as an assistant coach for the U.S. Junior Select Team.
Currently in his second season as the head coach of the Waterloo Black Hawks, Smaby made his official coaching debut as an assistant coach with EC Salzburg of EBEL in 2019-20 after spending two campaigns (2017-19) as team manager at his alma mater, the University of North Dakota, following his retirement as a player.
Smaby returned to the U.S. after one year with EC Salzburg and served as director of Grand Forks Youth Hockey in 2020-21, a season in which he also was also the head coach of the Grand Forks Bantam 14U AA team.
He spent three years (2003-06) as a player for the University of North Dakota men’s ice hockey team before embarking on an 11-year professional playing career that included 122 games in the NHL with the Tampa Bay Lightning; stops in the AHL with Springfield, Norfolk, and Syracuse; and his final four seasons in the DEL with EHC Munich.
USA Hockey also announced the support staff for the 2022 U.S. Junior Select Team, including equipment manager and strength and conditioning coach Spenser Popinga (Waterloo, Iowa), trainer and equipment manager Corey Courtney (Lincoln, Neb.), and team doctor Kevin Murray (San Jose, Calif.).