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The Perth Thunder will have a change of Head Coach for season 2020.
Dave Ruck has announced that he is stepping aside after three years in charge on the west coast. The 2017 AIHL Coach of the Year announced he was stepping aside on Friday after leading Perth to the AIHL Finals three years in a row, including their first AIHL Grand Final appearance in franchise history, finishing runners-up to the Sydney Bears in 2019.
Ruck has been a founding member of the Perth Thunder since their official entry into the AIHL in 2012. Ruck amassed 35 points in 80 games for Perth as a player, before retiring after the 2015 season to focus on coaching.
Aside from his Thunder duties, Ruck has been at the helm of the Mighty Roos’ U/20 team for the past two years, helping them secure silver at the IIHF World Championships this year and just missing out on promotion in the gold medal game, going down 4-1 to Iceland.
Ruck released this statement through the club:
“To all Thunder Fans, Volunteers, Players, Management and Board,
It is with a heavy heart I am letting you know I won’t be continuing as the Head Coach of the Perth Thunder for the 2020 season. I have appreciated the support of the fans and volunteers, relished the challenges of coaching in the AIHL and valued the camaraderie with the players and coaching staff as we’ve battled the league over the last 3 years.
When I look back on the last three years I feel blessed for this opportunity. It has seen me named the AIHL coach of the year in 2017 as well as the coach of the South All Star team in 2019. The thing I’m most thankful for is watching the team grow. We not only made it to the finals in each of the last three years, but we’ve improved our finals performance each year. This was evident with the team taking that extra step last season making the Grand Final for the first time. I’d like to thank the players for their willingness to seek and embrace growth in the culture as well as their belief in themselves. All of these factors have placed the Thunder in an excellent position for 2020, when I fully believe that the team is poised to win their first Goodall Cup.
Missing an opportunity to coach these players in a Goodall Cup win is definitely going to be the hardest part of not coaching this season. I’ve been coaching for 36 months straight, going from the summer season of the National Junior Program to the winter AIHL season. Unfortunately, to do these roles well it does not leave much time for a break, while my day job in a Perth high school requires a lot of mental and emotional energy. Frankly, I’m a bit weary and I’m looking forward to taking some time to refresh and recharge.
Lastly, I’d like to thank Stan Scott and the Thunder Board for the opportunity and support. I appreciate their offer to join the board or take up an administration role, but I’m looking to take a break so I will not be taking up an official position with Thunder at this time. Preparing, planning and up-skilling for the National Junior Program will certainly keep me busy, while I’ll unofficially be heading up the Alumni Association and taking up a prominent place in our private box, otherwise known as the “Crossbar.”
See you at the games,
Taking over from Ruck behind the Thunder bench is none other than Ben Breault.
Breault makes the transition from player to coach after arguably being the Thunder’s best player over the last four seasons. The 2017 AIHL points leader has tallied 50 points or more in 3 of his 4 years in the league, for a total of 193 points in his AIHL career.
The Pembroke, Ontario native will take the helm of a Thunder side looking to go that one step further and capture their first Goodall Cup, after last year’s AIHL Grand Final defeat.
Breault released this statement via the club:
“I’m just extremely humbled and thankful to be given the chance to coach the Thunder. “It is a new chapter of my career and I am excited to start with a group of players that I already know very well.”
“I’d like to thank Rucky for what he has brought to the team over the last three years. I have big shoes to fill.”
The Perth Thunder open their 2020 AIHL season on the road against the Adelaide Adrenaline on 2nd May 2020.
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