COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Matt Smaby (Minneapolis, Minn.), who is currently in his third season as head coach of the Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL), has been named head coach of the 2023 U.S. Junior Select Team, it was announced today by USA Hockey.
Team USA will compete in the 2023 World Junior A Challenge in Truro, Nova Scotia, from December 10-17 against Canada West, Canada East, Slovakia, and Sweden.
Smaby will be joined behind the bench by assistant coaches Mike Leone (Dearborn Heights, Mich./Green Bay Gamblers), Carter Krier (Moorhead, Minn./Fargo Force), and Evan Dixon (Novi, Mich./Dubuque Fighting Saints).
Matt Smaby will serve as head coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team for the first time in 2023 after serving in an assistant coach capacity in 2022.
The Minnesota native began his coaching career during the 2019-20 season with EC Salzburg in Austria after serving as a team manager for the University of North Dakota men’s hockey team from 2017-19. Smaby returned to North Dakota in 2020 to coach 14U hockey in Grand Forks before taking on the role of head coach for Waterloo in 2021. He guided the team to the USHL Western Conference finals his first season at the helm.
Smaby, who was selected 41st overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, skated three seasons (2003-06) for the University of North Dakota men’s ice hockey team and served as captain his junior season. He then embarked on a professional career (2006-17), including parts of four seasons with the Lightning in the NHL, in the AHL, and with Munich in the DEL.
Mike Leone, who is in his second season as head coach of the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL, returns as an assistant coach for the U.S. Junior Select team after serving in the same capacity in 2022.
No stranger to international competition, Leone was an assistant coach for the 2022 U.S. Under-18 Men’s Select Team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup; at the 2021 Under-17 Five Nations Tournament, where helped guide the U.S. to the championship; and the 2021 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship. Additionally, Leone was an assistant coach for Team USA's 2019 Under-17 Four Nations championship-winning team and for the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, where the U.S. placed second.
Before joining the Gamblers, Leone served as an assistant coach for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. He also spent time as an assistant coach for the Bowling Green State University men’s ice hockey team (2018-19) and for the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL (2017-18).
Leone played three years for the Western Michigan University’s men’s ice hockey team before competing four years professionally in the ECHL for the Toledo Walleye (2014-17) and the Kalamazoo Wings (2012-13).
Carter Krier, who is currently in his second season as an assistant coach for the Fargo Force in the USHL, will serve as an assistant coach for the U.S. Junior Select Team for the first time in 2023.
The Minnesota native started his coaching career in 2019 as an assistant and goaltending coach for East Grand Forks (Minn.) High School before joining the Force as a goaltending coach during the 2020-21 season. He was promoted to his current role of assistant coach in 2022.
Krier spent two seasons (2015-17) as a goaltender for the Moorhead (Minn.) High School boys’ varsity hockey team before joining the East Grand Forks High School boys’ varsity hockey team his senior season (2017-18), serving as captain.
Evan Dixon, who is currently in his second season as associate head coach for the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL, is making his second appearance as assistant coach for the U.S. Junior Select Team in 2023 after serving in the same capacity in 2022.
Dixon began his coaching career at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where he served as an assistant men’s ice hockey 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. He then joined the Fighting Saints as an assistant coach in 2019 before being promoted to associate coach in 2022.
Dixon played four seasons (2012-16) of hockey for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point men’s ice hockey team where he helped the squad to three straight NCAA title games, including the school’s fifth national championship his senior year. He served as captain his junior and senior seasons.
Following graduation, Dixon played one season (2016-17) with Fayetteville of the Southern Professional Hockey League before embarking on his coaching career.
ADDITIONAL TEAM STAFF
USA Hockey also announced the support staff for the 2023 U.S. Junior Select Team, including general manager Marc Boxer (Hancock, Mich.), athletic trainer Nick Hart (Omaha, Neb./Omaha Lancers.), equipment manager/strength and conditioning coach Spenser Popinga (Hartland, Wis./Waterloo Black Hawks), team physician Dr. Kevin Murray (Los Gatos, Calif.), and communications manager Clara Boudette (Ann Arbor, Mich.). Tommy O’Connor (Woburn, Mass./Seattle Kraken), John Burkart (Novi, Mich./Tampa Bay Lightning), Teddy Belisle(Bemidji, Minn./Los Angeles Kings), and Rick Comley (Marquette, Mich./Arizona Coyotes) are assisting general manager Marc Boxer with player personnel.
NOTES: Since the inaugural World Junior A Challenge in 2006, Team USA has captured nine tournament crowns (2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2022) along with one second-place finish and four third-place finishes ... To follow Team USA throughout the 2023 World Jr. A Challenge, click here.