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European championship-winning coach to coach Gulls

San Diego Gulls center Kyle Criscuolo (11) and goalie Olle Eriksson Ek (31) in a game against the Tucson Roadrunners at the Tucson Convention Center on March 11, 2020.
San Diego Gulls
San Diego Gulls center Kyle Criscuolo (11) and goalie Olle Eriksson Ek (31) in a game against the Tucson Roadrunners at the Tucson Convention Center on March 11, 2020.

Matt McIlvane has been hired as coach of the San Diego Gulls after winning five league championships as a coach and assistant coach in Europe over the last 10 seasons, it was announced Tuesday.

McIlvane succeeds Roy Sommer, who retired after one season as their coach on April 15, the day of the Gulls' final game of the season.

"Matt brings a winning pedigree to our organization in addition to a strong culture of development and performance," Pat Verbeek, the general manager of the Anaheim Ducks, the Gulls' NHL parent team, said in a statement. "Our players in San Diego will benefit from his leadership, philosophy, and his championship experience in Europe and the international level."


McIlvane spent the past four seasons coaching EC Red Bull Salzburg of the ICE Hockey League, the top-tier league in Austria, which also includes teams from Hungary, Italy and Slovenia.

McIlvane led Salzburg to back-to-back league championship in the 2021- 22 and 2022-23 seasons, and also won an ICE Hockey League title as assistant coach with Salzburg in 2013-14. He was the youngest head coach in the history of the team founded in 1977 when he was hired at age 33 in 2019. He had a regular-season record of 94-42-22-19 for a .650 points percentage, and a 31-8 mark in the postseason, .795%.

"I am humbled to be the next coach of the San Diego Gulls," McIlvane said in a statement. "I am incredibly grateful to Pat Verbeek for the trust to take on this responsibility. The Samueli family runs a first-class organization, and it is an honor to join the hockey club.

"I can't wait to meet the rest of the management, staff and players. We are ready for the challenge to develop Ducks prospects into NHL players and give the fans at Pechanga Arena San Diego an exciting team to cheer for."

McIlvane will be the Gulls' fourth coach in four seasons and fifth since the American Hockey League team moved to San Diego in 2015.


He began his coaching career in the 2011-12 season as coach and general manager of the Danville (Illinois) Dashers of the Federal Hockey League. The Naperville, Illinois native was then an assistant coach with the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL in the 2012-13 season.

McIlvane coached for EHC Red Bull München in Germany's Deutsche Eishockey Liga from 2014-19, serving as an assistant coach from 2014-18 and associate coach for the 2018-19 season.

McIlvane was an assistant coach with Germany's silver medal-winning team in the 2018 Winter Olympics and with its team at the 2021 IIHF World Championship when it finished fourth.

McIlvane's professional playing career consisted of 62 games in the International Hockey League, 15 in the AHL, 14 in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, seven in the Central Hockey League and two in the ECHL from 2008-12 with 16 goals and 22 assists.

He had 15 goals and 37 assists in 156 games for Ohio State from 2004- 08 and was the Buckeyes' captain as a senior in the 2007-08 season.