With Jon Jonasson at the coaching helm, the history of the Minnesota Moose has been successful since the day it started in the USPHL in the fall of 2017.
Jonasson recently announced the addition of Ryan Black as a second Assistant Coach and the 26-year-old brings even more expertise to club for the upcoming season.
“We are thrilled about the addition of Ryan Black to our staff,” said Jonasson in an email. “Ryan comes from an extensive playing background and was able to join a prestigious Division 1 program last year as a volunteer assistant coach at his alma mater, Northern Michigan.
“We want to continue to offer our players within the Moose organization the best opportunities, coaching and experience possible. Adding Ryan to the staff is just further proof that everything we do here is top-notch and in the best interest of the players.”
Black joins a staff that includes Jonasson and third-year assistant Nick Blanchette, the Moose has all areas covered in terms of coaching.
“Nick is entering his third season with the Moose,” said Jonasson adding the two assistants will complement each other well. “Since Nick has joined the Moose staff, we have seen an uptick in college and Tier 2 junior advancements. Nick has been a big part of our consistent league leading penalty kill. Nick is also the leader in player development using his expertise in skating and skills instruction.”
In Black, the Moose add a defenseman, just one season removed from a season of professional hockey and two seasons from wrapping up a successful four-year career at Northern Michigan. The young coach, a native of Stillwater, Minn. is thrilled to be back in the State of Hockey for the first time in several hockey seasons.
“I grew up playing Stillwater Association hockey until my eighth-grade year of school,” said Black in an email interview.
“From there I played one hockey season with the Wisconsin Fire. After that I enrolled at Hill-Murray (a private Catholic School in Maplewood, Minn., a suburb of St. Paul) where I wanted to play for Bill Lechner and continue the HM tradition that was in my family.”
After graduating from Hill Murray in the spring of 2013, Black said he ended up being a little discouraged at his prospects, but ultimately made a decision that paid off in a big way.
“After high school was over, I had no idea what I wanted to do as far as where to go for hockey,” said Black. “I talked to no USHL or NAHL teams at all. Honestly, I felt a little hopeless. Black said he paid to attend a pre-draft camp in North Dakota. “I actually left my own graduation party early in order to go to one of my games,” recalled Black.
“Before I went to the pre-draft camp, I emailed every team in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. I got one response from a team and it was the Bonnyville Pontiacs. The coach said he would have me for the main camp and keep me through pre-season so I would get a fair shot. My father and I drove 26-hours to get to a little two and a half hours north of Edmonton. I loved the small-town aspect of it and the coaching staff loved me from the start.
“I ended up making the team and made the decision to stay in the AJHL for my junior career,” said Black who went on to make the league all-Rookie team in his first year and captained the team in his second year, making the all-League squad.
Rick Swan was the coach in Bonnyville. “I cannot thank Rick enough for the opportunity and the simple email he gave me back,” said Black. “It made my career. I was able to commit to a great school from there.
Black went on to play four years at Northern Michigan playing under Walt Kyle, a former NHL coach and had a long tenure as an NCAA D1 mentor, then in his junior and senior seasons, Grant Potulny, a former University of Minnesota Coach took over the helm.
“I learned nothing but great things from those two coaches and as a player, loved being there and playing for them,” said Black.
“But it feels so good to be back in Minnesota full time. With having family here and a great support group of friends…My family has always had my back no matter what.”
After graduating from Northern Michigan, Black spent a season playing pro in the ECHL, but some nagging injuries and the frustrations of playing during the pandemic led him to turn his attention to coaching.
“Playing college hockey at the Division 1 level was always my dream growing up. I knew that school was important and being able to be an athlete at the same time was a bonus. After turning my career around my junior and senior year of college, I was able to get a contract in the ECHL. The next goal I set for myself was to be successful at that level and I believe COVID really didn’t help in that sense at all.
“We were making a great push to have home ice for playoffs and the world stopped. Having the season end so abruptly was challenging and unsettling as a player.”
Black said an injury from his College seasons was taking a toll as well with stress fractures to his lower back. He transitioned quick though, returning to Northern Michigan as a volunteer coach this past season.
“Going from playing to coaching was a different transition for me,” recalled Black. “Heading straight to Northern Michigan and being in that staff setting really helped me. One of the coaches, Rob Lehtinen, recruited me to come to NMU.
“I was able to obtain a great amount of knowledge by being in the presence of the coaching staff,” said Black adding “I’m ultra-competitive and want nothing more than to win. Having that mentality as a player will carry over into my coaching career.”
Jonasson will take advantage of his new coach’s defensive skills but he will be involved in several areas with the Moose.
“Ryan will primarily be assistant and working with our Defensive core, along with helping the rest of the staff with Video breakdown, special teams and recruiting,” said Jonasson.
Black is excited to get started.
“I believe learning your players, both mentally and physically is our homework as coaches, to get the best performance out of our players. With this staff, I’m the new guy stepping in and that is something I will be doing starting Day One.
“I was a defenseman throughout my career and working with the defense is the area I wanted to be in. That area really appeals to me because I know what it takes as a defenseman to be successful. Penalty kill was an area I took great pride in as a player. Special teams can change the momentum or even the game in some circumstances.
“Video and recruiting are also a big area I will be involved in. Taking the time and effort to do your homework on an opposing team can help in winning games.”
Video is important in today’s game. Recruiting is another important side for coaching, and I want to be involved as much as possible for that.”
Players that are interested in playing for the Minnesota Moose can contact Head Coach/ GM Jon Jonasson at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Minnesota Moose since its inception in 2017 have seen 70+ advancements to NCAA D1, NCAA D3, NAHL, and NCDC, the Moose have won 2 division championships, 4 straight trips to the National Tournament and have an over all record of 160-34!