Troy Ward has been everywhere hockey can take a person in North America.

He’s coached in the National Hockey League and at every level imaginable in professional, college and junior hockey. He’s also coached at the high school and youth levels.

This winter, Ward is getting back to his roots, serving as an assistant on the New Richmond boys varsity hockey team.

Ward and Tiger coach Adam Swanda have been friends for a number of years. Ward runs a summer camp at Gustavus Adolphus College and Swanda has served as one of the coaches at the camp for nearly a decade. Ward’s camps, “Hockey and Sons,” has a parent attend the camp with their child to make it not only a hockey experienced, but a family experience.

“Such a wise human being created that,” Swanda said of Ward’s camp. “It’s a life-changing experience. They’re on the ice together. It’s a unique bonding experience.”

Last winter, Ward coached the Madison Capitols in the United States Hockey League. He said he was hoping to coach in Europe this winter. But when the right opportunity didn’t materialize, he decided to spend the winter at his home on Deer Lake, outside St. Croix Falls. That’s when Swanda stepped in.

Swanda arranged a meeting for Ward with B.J. Olson, who hired him to work on the staff at Bernard’s Northtown in New Richmond. That left Ward free after 3 p.m., making him available to help coach the Tigers.

“I want to work with good people,” Ward said on taking the job with the Tigers and his friendship with Swanda. “Coaching is coaching and teaching is teaching. I love to teach the game of hockey.”

Ward played collegiate hockey at UW-Eau Claire, captaining the Blugolds’ 1984 NAIA national championship team. He then became a coach for the Blugolds and was named the team’s head coach when he was 25 years old. That’s where Swanda and Ward first met. Ward recruited Swanda when he was playing junior hockey in Waterloo, Iowa, after graduating from New Richmond High School in 1989.

Ward’s been a successful coach in junior and college hockey. From 1997-2000, he was an assistant coach for the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s also served as associate head coach for the University of Wisconsin Badgers from 2003-05, recruiting many of the players on the Badgers’ 2006 NCAA national championship team, including Hudson’s Davis Drewiske.

Ward also spent one year as the Director of Hockey Operations for the East Coast Hockey League. To say his hockey resume is diverse is a major understatement.

You likely won’t see Ward on the bench during Tiger games. Instead, he’ll find a vantage point where he can view everything that’s happening on the ice. He’ll report to Swanda after games, giving his perspectives on what he saw in the game. That’s the approach he’s taking with practices too.

“From the goalies on out, I’m giving them something to consider. It’s a chance to give back, to make the game easier for the kids,” Ward said.

Ward said he enjoys working with Swanda and shares the passion Swanda brings to the game.

“We’re ying and yang. It works out pretty good,” Ward said. “The other assistant coaches are no different; we’re just here to help Adam.”