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Swanda steps down as New Richmond boys hockey coach

Adam Swanda was interviewed after the Tigers reached the WIAA state tournament in 2011. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Adam Swanda (right) instructs his team during a game in the 2017-18 Tiger boys hockey season. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

Three hundred thirty-six wins.

That is the impressive number of victories that Adam Swanda amassed in his 21 years as the varsity coach of the New Richmond boys hockey team. While that is an incredible win total, it does not include the one win that Swanda most wanted in his coaching career.

"I wanted to be part of the team that won a WIAA state tournament in a one-class system," Swanda said.

That won't be happening. Swanda's resignation was accepted at the Oct. 15 meeting of the New Richmond Board of Education.

Zach Kier, a captain on the last Tiger team to qualify for state in 2011, has been hired in a one-year position to be the next Tiger varsity coach. Kier has coached in the Tiger system the past two years.

Swanda is the owner of St. Croix Financial Services and he said the time commitments of his business were a major part of his decision to retire from coaching.

"I don't think I can commit the amount of time and energy I expect from myself and the kids," Swanda said.

Swanda said his business changed broker dealers over the summer and the changes are requiring more of his time and attention.

The goal of a state championship has driven Swanda through the years and he's taken the Tigers to the state championships four times during his tenure. Once, in 2003, the Tigers reached the state championship game. The Tigers got goals from Danny Wells and Kenny Walters in the second period, but Superior came back to topple the Tigers, 3-2 for the state title. This was one of many times the Tigers and Superior have tangled in the playoffs. It has become an almost yearly event since New Richmond, Superior and Hudson were placed in the same sectional bracket. There's a strong belief that this is the strongest sectional bracket in the state.

The 2003 state tournament also produced one of the most memorable games in state tournament history. The Tigers and Verona battled into the third overtime in the opening round at state. Verona was led by Jack Skille, who played 10 years in the National Hockey League. But it was New Richmond who won. Matt Page made 44 saves and Josh Calleja scored in the third overtime to give the Tigers a 2-1 victory. It was the Tigers' first victory in a WIAA state tournament.

He can just as quickly recall the losses that are seared into his memory, like the triple-overtime loss to Superior at sectionals in the 2005-06 season.

"It's all part of the journey," he said in recalling the highs and lows of the years.

Swanda is a 1989 New Richmond High School graduate. He said he feels it is important to have a product of any program be the varsity coach. He was courted by Hudson several years ago to become the Raiders' head coach. Instead, he recommended Brooks Lockwood, a Hudson native.

Swanda said he wanted to acknowledge the New Richmond Youth Hockey Association for doing an amazing job of giving kids an opportunity to play hockey.

"We ride on the shoulders of those that came before us," Swanda said.

While Swanda is stepping away from the everyday role in the Tiger hockey program, he said he is looking to find another way to contribute.

"I'm not done with New Richmond hockey. I'll never be done," Swanda said of his future plans. "To me, it's always been about New Richmond kids. It's pride in our program from the ground up."

One of the classes of seniors Swanda grew closest to was the 2018 class of 16 Tigers, which included his son, Dane. Adam said this will be the first winter since 1975, other than when he was in college or junior hockey, that he won't be involved with the Tigers on a daily basis. But there will still be a Swanda coaching in the New Richmond program. Dane has agreed to become the Tigers' Bantam B coach for the upcoming season.

Dave Newman

Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.

(715) 426-1051
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