Wisconsin will complete its men’s hockey staff

The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team had four recruits playing for the Fargo Force in the United States Hockey League. Their head coach is joining them on the path to Madison.

The Badgers are hiring Nick Oliver to fill out Mike Hastings’ first coaching staff, sources said Tuesday. Youth Hockey Hub and The Rink Live were first to report the news.

Oliver, 32, coached Fargo to the USHL’s Clark Cup final in his only season as head coach. The team won a league high-tying 40 regular-season games, most by a rookie coach in Force history, and he was named the league’s coach of the year.

Force forwards Owen Mehlenbacher and Tanner Walos, defenseman Joe Palodichuk and goalie Anton Castro are committed to the Badgers, so Oliver will have some familiar faces on the roster in upcoming seasons. Mehlenbacher and Palodichuk signed to join UW in the upcoming season.

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Hastings, who earlier brought associate head coach Todd Knott with him from Minnesota State, completed his staff with a former St. Cloud State captain who spent four seasons as an assistant at his alma mater. Oliver went right from a four-year college playing career to a coaching position as an assistant with Sioux Falls of the USHL in 2015 under Madison native Scott Owens.

Oliver’s rise through the coaching ranks has been fast. He spent three seasons in Sioux Falls before going back to St. Cloud, where the Huskies won a National Collegiate Hockey Conference regular-season championship in 2019 and played in the Frozen Four championship game in 2021.

He took over in Fargo last season and also has been a coach at USA Hockey select camps.

Andy Brandt was the only member of the former Badgers coaching staff that was retained in the transition from Tony Granato to Hastings. Brandt took a job as head coach and general manager of the USHL’s Madison Capitols on May 1.

UW won’t have a former Badgers player as one of its three paid coaches for the first time since 1994.

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