Beaver Dam High School has a new prep boys hockey head coach and his name is a familiar one around town.
Doug Kraft was officially announced as the new head coach of the Golden Beavers on Tuesday and has plenty of experience around the Beaver Dam hockey scene. Kraft was an assistant coach for four years under former coach Chris Huebel, until the 2017-18 season when Huebel stepped down. He also coached youth hockey for the Beaver Dam Hockey Association in Beaver Dam for eight years prior to coaching with Huebel.
“It’s a dream come true,” Kraft said. “It’s a program that I take great pride having been a part of in the past. I’m really looking forward to being a part of it again. It’s an exciting time for both me and my family. We can’t wait to get back and get started, and to go on the journey with the boys.”
Jose Matamoros took over for Huebel and led the Golden Beavers to a 30-17-2 overall record over the last two years, making it to the the WIAA Division 1 sectional finals this past season. The Golden Beavers lost 2-0 to the eventual D1 runner-up Green Bay Notre Dame and Matamoros resigned last month to take a job closer to where his girlfriend lives.
“Coach Jose and his staff did do a tremendous job the last two years and I’ve been following along like anybody else in the community,” Kraft said.
Kraft left Beaver Dam to take the head coaching job at Stoughton, leading the Vikings to a 7-16 overall record in 2018-19 and a fifth-place showing in the Badger South Conference at 4-8.
That was Kraft’s only season with Vikings before Franklin Energy, the company he works for as a program manager, transferred him to St. Louis to manage residential energy efficiency programs for utility companies in Missouri.
Meanwhile, the itch to coach hockey never left and not long after moving Kraft found himself coaching hockey at the youth level again. This time it was with St. Peters Spirit, which this season has changed its name to the St. Peters Hockey Club. Kraft said it’s the largest youth hockey club in Missouri, with well over 700 players participating.
“That experience has been great,” said Kraft, who coached a 14-and-under Bantam AA team for a season and was a month into coaching a squirt team of 9-year-olds called the Top 2011s before word got out that Matamoros had stepped down to take an assistant coaching position at Milwaukee Marquette in early September.
“I had to get some things settled here in St. Louis to make sure I was able to pursue the opportunity,” Kraft said. “As soon as I was cleared that I was to do that, I applied right away.”
“With the pandemic, my company hasn’t switched to full remote, but a lot of my work can be remote,” Kraft added. “That opportunity provided me the opportunity to come back to be able to coach the team, keep my current position and work from Wisconsin.”
The WIAA’s start of practice (Nov. 16) and first game (Nov. 27) dates are just around the corner, meaning Kraft has a lot to get done in short order. He’s also still in the process of moving back to Beaver Dam.
The good news for Kraft is members of last season’s coaching staff (Gary Pashley, Grant DeMaa and Ross Damon) have all agreed to come back. Kraft has known Pashley for quite some time as they played and coached hockey at the youth and high school levels, which should help build relationships with the other coaches.
“I think that continuity is important for the players,” Kraft said. “The success they had (the last two years), that’s a resource I want to utilize. I’m excited to work with all three of them.”
Kraft is excited to pick up where Matamoros left off.
“Quite honestly, we want to build on it,” Kraft said. “The steps they took are steps that any program has to do to be competitive and be recognized. I think there’s a lot of energy around the program because of that. It’s going to be interesting. I’m definitely going to work with the assistant coaches to have a better understanding of what they did to have that success to get the most out of the players.
“More than anything, it’s going to be connecting with the kids and having them understand we’re on the same page. I want the same things they want. I know they don’t want to take a step back. Our plan will be to implement some things I’ve got experience in, but we also want to continue the path the program has been on the last few years.”
Follow Mark McMullen on Twitter @mmcmull2 or contact him at 920-356-6754.
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