Post Bulletin Apr 11, 2018 Updated Apr 13, 2018
It’s been just more than a week since the Rochester Grizzlies franchise was officially born, but the coaching staff and roster are already starting to take shape.
It was just eight days ago that Craig Patrick and Mike Cooper, owners of the Austin Bruins of the North American Hockey League, officially announced their purchase of the Rochester Ice Hawks organization, and their intention to keep the team in Rochester and in the North American 3 Hockey League, but also to re-brand the team as the Rochester Grizzlies.
Tuesday, the team announced its first coaching hire, as Rochester native Mike Aikens has been brought aboard as an assistant coach.
Aikens has also coached in the NAHL and the British Columbia Hockey League, a top Junior A league in Canada. He has most recently worked as the lead skating and hockey trainer at Olmsted Medical Center’s Sports Medicine and Athletic Performance divisions.
“I’m excited to be involved with the Austin Bruins organization,” Aikens said. “The Bruins have done a great job of developing players and are one of the premier franchises in the NAHL. I’m confident the ownership group will make the Rochester Grizzlies just as successful.”
Aikens’ coaching career began in the USHL as an assistant for Omaha in 1995 after his college career at Denver University was cut short due to a neck injury. From there he also coached with the Mustangs, Fargo-Moorhead Ice Sharks (USHL), Chicago Steel (USHL), Billings Bulls (AWHL/NAHL) and Williams Lake TimberWolves (BCHL) until 2010 when he returned to Omaha as an assistant coach.
“I’m hoping my experience in Junior hockey will help make (the Grizzlies) one of the best places for players to develop,” he said.
Grizzlies management said conversations with candidates for the head coaching job are ongoing, and they expect to be fill that position in the near future.
The Grizzlies last week announced their first tender (player signing) in franchise history, as Austin High School senior forward Dylan Svoboda signed with the team.
Svoboda was one of the top goal-scorers in the area this past season, as he finished his senior year with 20 goals and eight assists for 28 points.