ROCHESTER, Minn. – The only member of the Grizzlies coaching staff that’s been around since the team’s inception, Mike Aikens, has accepted the head coaching position with the newest team in the NAHL, the Anchorage Wolverines.
A Rochester, MN, native, Mike Aikens has been an assistant coach on the Grizzlies staff since the team was founded in 2018-19. Aikens, the first assistant coach in Grizzlies history, helped take the team to three consecutive playoff berths including two Central Division Championships. As a Rochester local, the Grizzlies weren’t his first gig in the area as he previously served as the head coach of the USHL’s Rochester Mustangs during the 1998-99 season.
“We are so grateful and thankful for all the hard work and dedication that Mike has given this organization over the last three seasons,” said Grizzlies Owner Mike Cooper. “With his knowledge and expertise, he was a huge part of getting the franchise off on the right foot and we know for sure he’ll do the same for the NAHL’s newest team in Anchorage.”
Aikens becomes the second coach in Grizzlies history to advance to the NAHL following Casey Mignone, Rochester’s first-ever head coach, who took a job with the St. Cloud Blizzard (now Norsemen) in 2019-20.
“It’s an important goal for our organization,” said Cooper. “Just like we try to advance our players to higher levels of play, we hope to do the same thing with our staff. To be able to accomplish that while also maintaining a high level of success on the ice year-to-year is exactly what we’re about.”
The Grizzlies are currently competing in the Fraser Cup Championship in St. Louis, MO, in search of their first Fraser Cup in the team’s history. The Grizzlies take on the Texas Brahmas Thursday night before battling it out with the Oklahoma City Blazers on Friday. Winners from the first round of pool play will advance to a four-team semi-final on Sunday before the remaining two victors will vie for the title on Monday, April 19.