Truehl named Middleton's new hockey coach

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Dan Truehl is Middleton's new hockey coach.

Dan Truehl pumped his fist — several times.

He tried acting composed, but butterflies filled his stomach and ideas began spinning in his head.

Truehl was named Middleton’s new boys hockey coach on April 30. And for a moment, he might have been the happiest man in Dane County.

“I was doing so many fist pumps I’m sure I looked like a little kid,” Truehl said the day after he was named the Cardinals’ coach. “The reality is, I’m incredibly excited.

“I’m obviously humbled. I know how great this program can be. And I think I can relate to the kids and create an upbeat, fun culture.”

Truehl takes over a program with tremendous potential. But it’s also one that was left in flames by previous coach Steffon Walby.

Middleton was disqualified from the postseason this winter after Walby played ineligible senior forward Joe O’Reilly in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal game on Feb. 18. That led to an investigation that showed the WIAA ruled O’Reilly ineligible in Oct., 2019, but Walby allowed him to play the entire season.

Walby claimed ignorance when it came to O’Reilly’s eligibility. But eventually, Walby and MHS agreed to “part ways”, closing one of the ugliest chapters in the history of Middleton hockey.

Truehl was the junior varsity coach at MHS a year ago and knew his ties to the past could be viewed as a negative. But he threw his hat in the ring anyhow and hoped to be judged on his own merit.

“I don’t think you can ever erase something like what happened,” Truehl said. “You have to acknowledge it and make sure certain mistakes don’t happen again.

“I’m not worried if there’s a marred view of Middleton hockey right now. I just know I’m going to come in and run the kind of program people can be proud of.”

Middleton interim athletic director Mark Kryka spearheaded the coaching search. There were nine applicants, five candidates received interviews, and two were interviewed a second time. All interviews were conducted “virtually.”

“We like (Dan’s) energy and feel he will take the program to the next level,” Kryka said of Truehl. “We look forward to exciting times for Middleton hockey.”

There’s a lot to like about Truehl.

Truehl grew up in Stoughton where he was a three-sport athlete. Truehl played golf and soccer, but his first love was always hockey.

Truehl played three years with the Madison Capitols between Grades 6-8. He then was a four-year defenseman at Stoughton High School and helped the Vikings reach the state tournament in both 2009 and 2010.

Truehl graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in Biology in 2015 and wasn’t sure if hockey would be part of his future.

But Truehl hooked on with the Verona Youth Hockey program, where he coached for three years. Truehl then joined Middleton’s staff last season.

“I got to know all the kids and all the returners,” Truehl said. “I think I can bring youth and excitement to the program.”

Truehl knows that Middleton hockey was once great.

Brothers Steve and Tony Libert led the Cardinals to the state tournament three times between 2003-’11, highlighted by a trip to the state championship game in 2011.

The program regressed under Walby, both on and off the ice.

Truehl is anxious to turn the page, though, and make the next chapter of Middleton hockey a memorable one.

“I’m going to be me,” he said. “I’m a very excitable person and I want the kids to have fun and have a great experience being in our program.

“But believe me, I want to win games. No one wants to win more than me. We’re going to compete, and when we step on the ice I want to play faster and I want us to outwork our opponents. If we do that, we’re going to have a lot of fun.”

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