Former Axemen Assistant Coach Ryan to coach STU

Troy Ryan’s hockey career has come full circle.

By GLENN MacDONALD Sports Reporter

The former player with the Saint Mary’s Huskies and UNB Varsity Reds and assistant coach at Acadia is coming back to the Atlantic university ranks, this time as a head coach. Ryan, who had spent the past eight seasons coaching in the Maritime Junior Hockey League, will take over the reins of the St. Thomas Tommies.

“Ultimately it’s always been my goal to be a head coach (in the AUS) but it wasn’t something I really pursued,” the 39-year-old Ryan said in an interview Wednesday. “It came to me and I jumped at the opportunity when it came my

Ryan, who officially begins his new position on May 2, succeeds former NHLer Mike Eagles, who stepped down as the Tommies coach after last season to focus solely on his job as St. Thomas athletic director.

Ryan, who signed a three-year contract with options, inherits a Tommies squad that has missed the AUHC playoffs the past three seasons and finished a dismal 3-21-4 during the 2010-11 campaign.

But rebuilding a struggling club into a contender is nothing new to Ryan. As the first head coach of the Pictou County Crushers, Ryan turned the fledging Maritime junior team into a Fred Page Cup winner in 2008. He took over the reins
of the slumping Halifax Lions and guided them to post-season berths in his two years at the helm, including last season as the relocated Metro Marauders.

“All the teams that I have ever gone into have been in similar situations as St. Thomas,” said Ryan, who also served as president and general manager with the Marauders. “This is what I do, although this is at a completely different
level and a higher level. But the things you do as a coach will be much the same.

“They understand there are things you can’t do overnight. I won’t be scrambling and trying to sign anyone I can. I’ll try to go with a couple quality recruits this year and a few next year and then build it from there. If we went
crazy with recruits this year, then in four years time we would be in the situation again looking for 10 or 12 players. But we’re getting late into the recruiting phase so obviously that’s a priority right off the bat.”

Eagles said he was impressed with Ryan’s experience, technical knowledge and commitment to building winning programs.

“He has excelled at setting and meeting goals for his teams, and he has advanced his programs by attracting and developing players that fit with the values of his teams,” Eagles said in a news release.

Ryan said he would help assist the Marauders in their search for his replacement. Marauders co-owner John Patterson said he would like someone to fill the dual role of bench boss and general manager.

Ryan leaves Metro in top shape, with only seven players graduating from the junior ranks and a slew of draft picks in the upcoming midget-aged draft in June.

“We’re very optimistic about the future,” Patterson said. “We’re loaded with a core of local guys coming back. And we have the most first-round draft picks and the most picks overall in the draft.”

“It’s bittersweet to lose a guy like Troy,” Patterson added. “He’s such a quality person and has done such a great job for our franchise. I’m really excited for him. But now we’re in a position that we have to find a new coach.
It’s not something that we had planned for this year. It came out of left field. But we knew we would only be able to keep someone as talented as Troy for a certain amount of time.”