Minnesota Wilderness promote newly hired Skinner to head coach

Brett Skinner was hired as an associate head coach for the Minnesota Wilderness in August. Two games into the season, he's been promoted to head coach so David Boitz can focus on general manager duties.

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CLOQUET — The Minnesota Wilderness announced the promotion of newly hired associate head coach Brett Skinner to head coach on Monday. David Boitz has stepped down as head coach, but remains the general manager.

Skinner was hired by the Wilderness in August — along with new assistant coach Brett Skinner — after the Wilderness fired assistant coach Brendan Phelps for child solicitation allegations that were made against him in a YouTube video. No charges were filed , however, Phelps did receive a temporary suspension for allegations of misconduct from the U.S. Center for Safesport. That prevents him from coaching in any league sanctioned by USA Hockey, such as the Tier II junior North American Hockey League, which the Wilderness are a member.

Brett Skinner and Kyle Brodie will join head coach and general manager Dave Boltz.
The allegations were serious enough to forward to the United States Center for SafeSport, the North American Hockey League, USA Hockey and local authorities.
Three men confronted Brendan Phelps in a Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, park, alleging that he solicited a 16-year-old boy over the internet.

A native of Brandon, Manitoba, Skinner was an assistant coach with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the Tier I junior United States Hockey League the previous five seasons, helping the Stampede win the USHL’s Clark Cup in 2018.

Skinner played junior hockey in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League and USHL before winning back-to-back NCAA championships with Denver in 2004 and 2005. He played 12 seasons of professional hockey, spending the majority of his career in the American Hockey League before wrapping up his career in Czechia. Skinner did play 11 games in the NHL with the New York Islanders, before winning an AHL Calder Cup with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2013.

“Brett is going to be an outstanding coach for our program,” Boitz said in a statement. “His ability to teach in practice and create an environment for our players to learn and develop is exactly what we were looking for in a coach. I have no doubt that Brett beginning his head coaching career with the Wilderness will be a start to a very long and successful coaching career. We are fortunate to have Brett and are very excited for the future of our program.”


Boitz stepped in as head coach and GM of the Wilderness last season following the departure of Jon Vaillancourt. The Wilderness’ season came to an end in the second round of the NAHL Robertson Cup playoffs.

The 2022-23 season got underway last weekend for the Wilderness with a pair of losses to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs at Northwoods Credit Union Arena in Cloquet. The Wilderness are in Blaine this week for the NAHL Showcase.

Brady Welsch's power play goal early in the third period held up as a game-winner for Fairbanks.

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