By David White
The Fresno Bee
FRESNO, Calif. – New Fresno Falcons hire Matt Thomas shook hands with the owner, tugged on a team hat and took in applause from fans.
“I feel like it’s draft day for me,” Thomas said, and at age 29, he certainly looks young enough to be an incoming hockey player.
The former Atlantic City coach was welcomed Thursday as the fifth Falcons coach of the past 10 years. He replaces the recently ousted Greg Spenrath as head coach and departing Blaine Moore as general manager of the ECHL franchise.
Falcons owner Charles Davenport introduced Thomas at a news conference attended by about 50 fans at the World Sports Cafe. Davenport talked about the disappointment of recent seasons and gave Thomas a mandate to end the Falcons’ two-year hiatus from the postseason.
“Nobody here wants to be a .500 club that misses the playoffs,” Davenport said. “We want to make the playoffs and win a championship. Absolutely, he’s here to win.”
Thomas established himself last season as the youngest coach in the ECHL, guiding the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies to a 42-28 record and a playoff berth.
His team had the top mark in the National Conference midway through the season and he was named his conference’s coach for the ECHL All-Star Game.