By Dylan Becker
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The hiring of a new head coach is always a worrisome time for both hockey fans and players. After breaking the record for most regular season wins this past season under Coach Jeff Carr, it can be safe to assume those concerns have been on the mind of Ice Bears nation for the past few weeks.
On August 11, it was announced that Coach Carr was hired as an assistant coach for the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals, leaving it up to Ice Bears general manager Mike Murray to begin the search for the new bench boss. Rumors, suggestions, and comments of general concern immediately flooded Ice Bears fan pages. It was finally announced on August 24 that management had chosen former Ice Bears assistant coach and seventeen-year veteran Brent Clarke, who spent last season as head coach and general manager of the FPHL’s Watertown Wolves.
Clarke’s professional experience spans across ten different leagues and twenty-four different teams, including stints in the SPHL with the Columbus Cottonmouths, Mississippi Surge, Huntsville Havoc, Evansville Thunderbolts, and a President’s Cup with the Pensacola Ice Flyers in 2013. Under his leadership last season, the Watertown Wolves went 39-12-0-4-4, finishing in first place and winning the FPHL’s championship, the Commissioner’s Cup.
Given the success of last season, Ice Bears nation will hold their new head coach to a high standard. Last year’s forty-two regular season wins was an incredible feat that will be difficult to achieve. While it may be that it’s up to the players to perform on the ice, it’s up to the coaching staff to implement strategies that could either take them to greatness at the top or send them to suffer at the bottom.