Winning isn’t everything, but it happened more than 20 games per season under USC men’s ice hockey head coach Mark Wilbur, who now will skate into a new role as the team’s general manager.
The promotion will allow Wilbur to tackle what he calls “a list of hockey to-dos that I have wanted to get done for years.”
Chief items on the list are recruiting more players out of high school, expanding the team’s international presence, and building sponsor and vendor relationships for the program.
“I want to get USC more on the forefront of being a place of destination for really good hockey players who also can read and write and have a 4.0 to get in,” Wilbur said.
A student-run organization under the auspices of Recreational Sports, the ice hockey team plays approximately 25 games a season against local, national and international rivals. Wilbur coached the team for 16 seasons with an unprecedented eight Pac-8 championships and 322 wins.
Former player and assistant coach Jeff Langille will assume the role of head coach.
“There’s an undeniable winning culture that Mark Wilbur brought to USC ice hockey,” said Ryan Farias, who played on the 2006 and 2007 championship teams. “With Mark, winning is expected. It becomes commonplace along with his confidence in the most adverse situations.”
Manny Ramirez, a former assistant coach, said that Wilbur’s contributions extend far beyond having the best record in Pac-8 history.
“What Mark has done off the ice is just as impressive: He has been like a second father to many of our players,” Ramirez said. “He has helped kids get jobs, decide on majors and was always there when the players needed someone to talk to.”
He’s also expanded their horizons, taking his teams abroad for international games in Iceland, Italy, France, Thailand and Japan. In 2002, USC men’s ice hockey received recognition from the Chinese National Sports Federation as the first U.S. collegiate hockey team to play in China.
“I’m proud of many accomplishments that I have enjoyed while coaching these great guys, not least of which was watching more than 700 players graduate from USC,” Wilbur said. “This is not an end of a great run of championships, but more of a refresh and a beginning of another great run.”