Hockey is a results-based business – and the results simply weren’t there for Evan Vossen, whose contract will not be renewed as head coach and general manager of the La Ronge Ice Wolves.
Vossen, who was hired in 2016, spent parts of three seasons with the Ice Wolves and posted a 22-118-2-5 record behind the bench.
The SJHL club will start the search for a new boss following the 2018-19 campaign. Ice Wolves President Grant Merriman says they are seeking an experienced candidate.
“It would be nice to see an eight, 10, 12-year veteran – somebody that’s got a lot of coaching behind them — and at this level,” said Merriman. “We’re looking for somebody in the WHL or the SJHL, somewhere up in that range, that class of coaching.”
Gaelan Patterson, who started the season as the assistant coach with the Ice Wolves, has been given the reigns as interim head coach and general manager. Patterson, a 28-year-old La Ronge product, played four seasons with the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL before embarking on an eight-year pro career around the world. Patterson was a seventh-round draft pick of the Calgary Flames in 2009. While with the Flames organization, Patterson says there was a major shakeup.
“It’s a confusing or difficult situation, especially at that level because the changes that a new management team at the NHL level bring in – is a big change,” said Patterson.
“It was going into my second year, the coaching and management changed and you felt it as players because they brought in a lot of guys. It happens though, it’s a business here in hockey and I think everyone has to take a step back and kind of take the emotional part out of it and realize that these things happen.”
Terry “Moose” Hunt and Mike Zambon have joined Patterson on the bench for the rest of the season in assistant coach roles. Hunt, who is also the team’s marketing director, has served as an assistant coach with La Ronge a few times throughout the years. Zambon is the father of former Ice Wolf Mitch Zambon and a former coach of the Melfort Mustangs.
The Ice Wolves are 1-1 under Patterson. La Ronge snapped a 14-game losing streak with a 3-2 shootout victory in Melville on Friday night. The Ice Wolves then came up short 6-3 in Wilcox versus the Notre Dame Hounds on Saturday.
Ice Wolves forward Zach Bannister admits, the team has some new life.
“Press the reset button. Obviously, whatever happened, happened and it’s time to move on,” said Bannister. “We got a team here that can really play and a bright future ahead.”
The Ice Wolves get back to work Friday in Flin Flon when they meet the Bombers for the ninth time this season. You can catch the action live on MBC Network Radio with Braden Malsbury. The pre-game show gets underway at 7:15 p.m.
The Ice Wolves conclude their season Saturday on home ice versus the Bombers. Saturday’s contest is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Mel Hegland Uniplex.
(PHOTO: The Ice Wolves in action earlier this season. Photo by David Smith.)