Hockey Headlines

Monday, 7 April 2014

From AHL To CIS

The man in the suit is coming to Canadian university hockey. That's Spiros Anastas who is currently an assistant coach with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, but he has accepted the head coaching position at for the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns men's hockey team next season. If the CIS was looking for a way to increase its exposure and gain some additional players from the Canadian junior program or elsewhere, getting an accomplished coach like Anastas will help immensely.

Anastas comes to a program that desperately needs some new life. Lethbridge was a Canada West-worst 4-21-3 last season, missing the playoffs by 13 points. Their leading goal-scorer had seven goals in 28 games. Their top goaltender was 1-8-1 with a 4.97 GAA and a .878 save percentage. Needless to say, this team needs some new direction, some decent scouting, and a better game plan on the ice.

Cue Spiros Anastas. He was the Griffins' team analytics and advanced scouting coach during its 2012-13 Calder Cup championship season, so he's good at crunching numbers and seeing talent where others may not. The Griffins are atop the Midwest Division this season, and are battling with the Texas Stars for first-overall in the Western Conference. Needless to say, Anastas has been an integral part of the Griffins' success over the last two seasons.

"I am excited for the next step in my career as I move on to being a head coach," Anastas said to reporters. "I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that the Detroit Red Wings and Griffins organizations have given me over the last two seasons. The ability to take in a wealth of knowledge from the numerous coaches, scouts and managers within the system has expanded my horizons as a young coach."

The Detroit Red Wings organization has seen some pretty good success when it comes to coaches and the University of Lethbridge. Mike Babcock won a CIS championship as with Lethbridge as their head coach in 1993-94 in his only season at the Alberta school, and Detroit assistant coach Bill Peters was the head coach of the Pronghorns from 2002-05. Rather than recruiting a coach this time, they lose a 28 year-old up-and-coming coach to the CIS.

"I owe many thanks to Ryan Martin, Jeff Blashill, Jim Paek and all the players who have passed through here over the last two seasons," Anastas told the media. "The Calder Cup run last season is something that I will never forget, and I look forward to going at it again this year. I am so fortunate to have been part of such first-class organizations. I thank everyone on the Griffins' staff and the city of Grand Rapids for making me part of their hockey family."

The CIS is gaining an intelligent coach who will push the Pronghorns' program to new heights. He's a coach that won't allow mediocrity to be the norm, and he will expect his players to rise to new levels. Spiros Anastas is a great coach, and the University of Lethbridge will improve under Anastas' watchful eye.

And that's great for the CIS and Canada West overall.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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