Riley brought aboard at Wilkes

Compiled by Staff

Brett Riley will be the inaugural coach for the Wilkes men's program. Photo: Wilkes Athletics

Wilkes Barre, PA- When it came to hitting their original target start date, things did not quite go as planned the first time for the new men's program at Wilkes.

The Colonels were slated to be on the ice this fall with Westfield associate coach Michael Young at the helm, but a change of plans kept Young at Westfield. That prompted Wilkes administrators to defer the program's beginning by a season to allow for more building time under a new head coach. 

The second time around, Wilkes is hoping they've found the guy to put them on schedule for Fall 2018, and have placed one of the profession's brightest young stars in charge. On Tuesday, Colonel athletic director Addy Malatesta announced the hiring of Brett Riley as the school's new men's head coach. 

"I would like to thank Wilkes University, Athletic Director Addy Malatesta, Associate Athletic Director Phil Wingert, and the search committee for selecting me to be their first men's ice hockey coach," Riley said in the school's release. "It is an honor and privilege to join the Wilkes community and athletic department. Having the opportunity to build a college ice hockey program will be an exciting challenge, and one that I am ready for. Wilkes has all the resources in place to accommodate a successful NCAA ice hockey program. President Leahy and the University have made a large commitment to building the athletic programs at Wilkes and after visiting I left extremely impressed by the facilities, academic offerings, support of the athletic department and most importantly, the people."

Riley comes aboard after serving as the youngest head coach in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference at Albany Academy, and oversaw a meteoric rise in the program's placing that culminated in a 2017 NEPSAC runner up finish. Riley was also responsible for the school's strength and conditioning program. Riley joined Albany Academy after his 2014 graduation from Hobart, where he played four years under Mark Taylor and was a three time ECAC West All-Academic pick. Riley was a forward on the school's 2012 conference postseason championship team. 

Riley's progression as a young professional comes as no surprise given his pedigree. Brett is the son of current Columbus Blue Jackets amateur scout Rob Riley, who previously coached the AHL's Springfield Falcons after an 18 year run as his father's successor in the head coach role at Army. Brett's grandfather, Jack, coached at Army for decades and was the head coach of the gold medal-winning USA Hockey team at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley. Brett's uncle Brian has continued the Riley legacy at Army, serving as head coach since Rob's departure in 2010. 

Wilkes will enter the 2018-19 season as a member of the United Collegiate Hockey Conference, joining in-city rival Kings College. They will play their home games at the Coal Street Ice Rink in Wilkes-Barre, and will do so alongside a women's program that will start play under Stephanie Newmark this fall. 

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