If you noticed a new face on the bench with the Kootenay Ice this weekend, that’s because there was one.
Joining head coach Ryan McGill and his assistant, Jay Henderson, was Mike Dyck, who will lend his support to the franchise when McGill takes off with Team Canada for the World Juniors at Christmas.
Dyck, a former WHL coach with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Vancouver Giants, has been out of the league since 2009, but jumped at the chance to join the Ice and help out.
Dyck, a native of Lethbridge, will make the trip down to Cranbrook once a month leading up to Christmas, where he will be around full-time during McGill’s absence.
He was present during Ice training camp and had a chance to check out the talent on the roster.
“I think, coming in, I knew that the team obviously had a strong second half last year with a young team, and I was impressed with how close everybody is, the character of the group,” said Dyck.
“We got a real good group of guys here and obviously, it’s easy to come in when you have solid leadership at the top. It’s an easy situation to come into.”
Dyck was an assistant coach in Lethbridge for four years, before taking on the same role with the Vancouver Giants for another three. He returned to the Hurricanes in 2005 to lead as head coach for three seasons, taking his squad to the WHL finals in 2008.
Dyck and McGill began talking in the summer, when the latter found out he was part of Team Canada’s coaching staff.
“It really wasn’t that difficult a decision for me,” Dyck said. “I had to clear it with my family, but it’s a great opportunity for me to get back into the Western Hockey League again, and at the same time, I don’t have to move my family or sacrifice what I’ve got in Lethbridge right now.”
McGill and Dyck have history, playing against each other in major-junior in the 1980s and later coaching against each other, when Dyck was an assistant in Lethbridge and McGill was coaching the Ice in Edmonton and Cranbrook in his first tenure.
“We’ve got some history together, got some similar values and similar ways to play the game so I think this weekend was a real good indication of how all three of us are going to work as a staff and I’m really happy with how it went,” McGill said, after Kootenay wrapped up training camp at the beginning of September.
Dyck has remained in Lethbridge while raising a family, but has kept his foot in the game at the minor hockey and elite levels. He coached Sam Reinhart and Jaedon Descheneau at the 2012 World U-17 Hockey Challenge and will helm Team Alberta for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.