By Matt Stefano
Shortly after Jordan Smith was named the returning head coach and new general manager of the Soo Thunderbirds, the team has announced the other two people who will be calling the shots behind the bench.
Returning for his fourth season as assistant coach of the T-Birds will be 31 year old Ryan Maunu.
“I am very excited to return for my fourth year with the Soo Thunderbirds as an assistant coach to Jordan,” said Maunu. “The facility at The Tech has a lot of different off ice options for our players to participate in as a team. I’m looking forward to the 2016/2017 year.”
Joining Smith and Maunu behind the bench will be a new, but familiar face to the Soo Thunderbirds organization, as the club has hired Zoltan “Toots” Kovacs as their associate coach.
Maunu, as a player for the Soo Thunderbirds from 2004-2006, who led the club in scoring back to back seasons, was also coached under newly named associate coach Zoltan “Toots” Kovacs.
“I’m thrilled to be coaching with Toots,” said Maunu. “As a player for the Thunderbirds, I always respected and looked up to him as a coach.”
After two seasons as head coach of the T-Birds, Kovacs spent two seasons as an assistant coach, coaching alongside Craig Hartsburg and Denny Lambert with the Ontario Hockey League’s Soo Greyhounds from 2006-2008.
In 2012, he then took over as an interim head coach for the T-Birds at the RBC Cup.
“He instilled great values to my teammates and I,” continued Maunu. “Now to do the same thing with him is special. He is also a great motivator.”
After serving one season as the Soo Thunderbirds Vice President, the club has announced that Mark Hebert will be returning for the 2016/2017 season as the assistant general manager.
Scouting staff named to the club will include former Soo Greyhound and NHLer Chris Simon, Adam Sergerie (Alberta Based Scout) and Andy Zulyniak (Manitoba Based Scout).
The Tech 1921 Ltd. and Soo Thunderbirds hockey club, who have brought Jordan Smith back for his fourth year behind the bench and first year as general manager, have also hired him on a full time basis for the next two seasons with an option for a third.
(Photo by Jim Egan)