Geoff Ward named Toronto Roadrunners head coach
The Toronto Roadrunners announced today the appointment of Geoff Ward as their new head coach. The Roadrunners are the affiliate team of the Edmonton Oilers of the NHL. Ward becomes the first head coach of the franchise, which will begin play in the AHL in 2003-04. "Geoff has done a tremendous job for us since joining the Oilers organization two-and-a-half seasons ago and he has been a valuable part of the operation during that time." stated Edmonton Oilers Assistant General Manager and General Manager of the Roadrunners, Scott Howson.
Howson noted that "Geoff did a very good job with the Bulldogs this season, taking over for Claude Julien in January and leading the team to the seventh game of the Calder Cup Final. We feel he is the right person to help our prospects develop and provide the necessary leadership for a winning team in Toronto."
Ward, a 41 year old native of Manitouwadge, Ontario, joined the Hamilton coaching staff as an assistant in January of 2001 and helped Claude Julien take the Bulldogs to the 2002 AHL Calder Cup semi-final. The 2002-03 season saw him begin the year as the Bulldogs assistant coach and finish the campaign as the team's head coach. Ward became Hamilton's interim head coach on January 17, 2003 following Julien's appointment as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens and he was named the Bulldogs full-time head coach 10- days later on January 27, 2003. In 35 regular season games behind the Hamilton bench, Ward compiled a 16-13-5-1 (.543) record and led the Bulldogs to first place in the AHL's overall standings. The post-season saw Ward and the Bulldogs win three of four playoff series as they posted a 14-9 (.609) record on their way to the Calder Cup final, where they lost in the seventh game to the Houston Aeros.
Ward brings a wealth of coaching experience to the position as he previously was the head coach of the Kitchener Rangers, Guelph Storm and Mississauga Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League, leading Kitchener and Guelph to Central Division titles in 1996-97 and 1998-99, respectively.
He also was the head coach of the Arkansas Riverblades of the East Coast Hockey League in 1999-00 and began the 2000-01 season with Bad Nauheim of the German Bundesliga before joining the Hamilton Bulldogs. During the summer of 1998 Ward led Canada's men's under 18 team to the gold medal at the Six Nations Cup tournament.
Ernie Coetzee, President of the Toronto Roadrunners Hockey Club added that "The choice of Geoff Ward is a great beginning for our team given his extensive background and tradition of winning. Coetzee added that an Assistant Coach for the Roadrunners will be named at a later date."
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American Hockey League Stories from July 16, 2003
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