Nathan Lieuwen leans against a railing at Western Financial Place. (Brad McLeod Photo)

Nathan Lieuwen leans against a railing at Western Financial Place. (Brad McLeod Photo)

Kootenay Ice name alumni Nathan Lieuwen as new video coach

Former star WHL goalie returns to organization as part of coaching staff for 2017-18 season

The Kootenay Ice announced on Thursday that they had hired alumni Nathan Lieuwen as their new video coach.

In May, the 25-year-old announced his retirement from professional hockey after a five-year career which included seven NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres as well as time with the AHL’s Rochester Americans and San Antonio Rampage, and the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors and Colorado Eagles.

Unfortunately, Lieuwen’s bright future as a goaltender was derailed by vision problems caused by a concussion he suffered three years ago while playing for the Sabres.

In an interview with the Townsman in early June, Lieuwen said that he believed that he had a good analytical mind for hockey that could serve him well in a future coaching position.

“I think there are a lot of things that I learned that I could help coaches with,” Lieuwen said. “As far as systems and player development, I feel that would be a really good fit for what I learned and how I saw the game when I played.”

In a team release, Ice head coach James Patrick praised their new addition.

“I had a chance to coach Nathan in Buffalo with the Sabres organization [and] you could see his attention to detail and passion for the game as a player,” Patrick said. “We are very excited to add someone with his professional background to our coaching staff and we think he will bring a lot to the role of video coach.”

Lieuwen was similarly pleased, telling the Townsman on Monday morning that the new position was a good fit for him.

“It’s pretty exciting to be welcomed back in this way and have an opportunity to help out in a pretty fun role,” Lieuwen said. “I think it will be so good for everybody.”

The role will require Lieuwen to code and cut video clips from Ice games to facilitate the rest of the coaching staff to easily access specific plays or special teams moments.

“When I was playing pro, we would watch a lot of video and we had video coaches there so I’ve been around the job quite a bit,” he said. “I’m excited and I want to discover what I’m passionate about and learn about the different areas of coaching, staffing, and hockey and see what in the future might be a good fit for me.”

Joining a hockey operations department with years of NHL experience is also a thrill for Lieuwen.

“I don’t know [exactly] what I’ll end up pursuing in the future, but any kind of experience you can gain is so valuable,” he said. “With the coaching staff that [the Ice] have, I can totally gain from that.”

Lieuwen played parts of five seasons with the Ice during his WHL career from 2007-2012. He appeared in 178 regular season games, registering a 2.77 GAA, a .903 SV% and a record of 85-59-8-7.

Lieuwen also played in 26 playoff games including 19 in 2011 when the Ice captured the WHL Championship and was named playoff MVP that year.