Photos by Michael Caples
PLYMOUTH, Mich. - USA Hockey's National Team Development Program announced today that Matt Larke (Oxford, Mich.) has been named player development coach and will be working with both the Under-17 and Under-18 Teams for the 2021-22 season. Larke will be responsible for overseeing NTDP players' on-ice development through on-ice instruction and video breakdown.
"I’m extremely honored and thankful for the opportunity to work with these special players on a daily basis," said Larke. "I want to thank the entire NTDP staff for believing in me and what I can provide for these players. I’m so excited and fortunate to represent the United States."
Larke is currently the owner and head instructor at Skate to Create, which focuses on improving players' situational and technical skating skills. Those are some of the most important skills he hopes to help pass along to the current crop of NTDPers.
"It’s the little things with these players. If I can make their stride more efficient, that’s what I’m going to do," explained Larke. "If I can alter their style of shooting or give them more tools in the bag, that’s what I’m here to do."
U.S. National Under-18 Team head coach Adam Nightingale says Larke's strengths play right into the style of hockey his team aims to play.
"The game we play is a fast, puck possession game and it requires a high skill level," said Nightingale. "So our players will not only get better here, but for the next level as well. We want to make sure the kids get the opportunity to keep growing their skill and their game every day and Matt will help us do that."
Larke's previous experience includes having served on the Naurato Hockey staff since 2016, where he is a summer program instructor. He has also worked as a skill development coach with the USHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks (2019-20) and the OHL's Flint Firebirds (2018-20). Prior to his work with Flint, the Michigan native worked as the head instructor at Total Package Hockey Detroit, beginning in 2016.
Larke had an eight-year professional hockey career, spanning nine teams across the CHL, ECHL and EIHL, most recently suiting up for the ECHL's Fort Wayne Komets during the 2015-16 campaign.