USA taps Osiecki for 2015

First head coaching role for long-time assistant

09.04.2014
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Mark Osiecki celebrates with his players after winning his second World Junior Championship as an assistant coach in Ufa 2013. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images

Mark Osiecki owns three World Junior Championship medals as an assistant coach and come 2015 he looks to add number four, this time as head coach, after USA Hockey named him to the post on Wednesday.

"I'm thrilled to accept the role of head coach for the U.S. National Junior Team," said Osiecki.

"Each time I've been on the Team USA staff it's been an extremely rewarding experience. I will incorporate a lot of what I learned from Phil Housley, Keith Allain and Dean Blais at previous tournaments, as well as what I gained from Mike Eaves at Wisconsin,“ he added.

Don Granato, Kevin Patrick and Mike Ayers will serve as assistant coaches.

Osiecki, a native of Burnsville, Minnesota, is well respected in Team USA circles after winning gold medals as an assistant in 2010 and 2013, and bronze in 2011.

“I’m extremely excited to have Mark as the head coach of our national junior team. He is a very obvious choice, there’s tons of respect for him in hockey,” said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director for hockey operations at USA Hockey, who will also serve as general manager of the 2015 U.S. National Junior Team.

"In addition to his international coaching success, Mark has a wealth of experience coaching young players at the junior, college and professional levels,” Johannson added.

Osiecki (nicknamed Ozzie) becomes the 22nd U.S. world junior head coach, replacing Don Lucia who coached the 2014 team to a fifth-place finish in Malmo, Sweden.

After a gold medal drought from 1977 until 2004, the U.S. world junior team has won three gold medals since (2004, 2010 and 2013), while becoming a perennial medal favourite in nearly every tournament.

Osiecki must lead his team into hostile host cities Toronto and Montreal to get the U.S. back on the podium after missing the medals in 2014.

“As a staff we have embrace the challenge, embrace the environment and it’s going to be a tremendous experience being held in North America,” added Osiecki.

Osiecki and Team USA will invite roughly 45 players to the national junior evaluation camp in Lake Placid, NY, in August. Both the Swedish and Finnish junior teams are confirmed for participation during that time.

Currently, Osiecki is behind the bench as an assistant coach for the Rockford Ice Hogs, the AHL affiliate of the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks after three years leading the Ohio State Buckeyes (NCAA).

Prior to Ohio State, Osiecki was an assistant coach at his alma mater Wisconsin, winning a national championship in 2006. Osiecki was also an assistant at North Dakota (NCAA) when the Fighting Sioux won the 1997 title.

A three-year letter-winner on defence for Wisconsin from 1987-1990, Osiecki was the assistant captain in 1990 when the Badgers won the NCAA title.

Calgary drafted Osiecki in the ninth round of the 1987 draft and the defenceman played 93 NHL games for the Flames, Senators, Jets and North Stars. Yet, the majority of his professional playing career came in 184 IHL appearances.

In 1992 Osiecki skated for the United States at the World Championships held in Prague, adding an assist in six games.

RYAN O’LEARY

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