By Derek Holtom
MJHL Web Correspondent
Following an exhaustive search, the Swan Valley Stampeders have finally got their man.
The junior A hockey squad announced last week that they have hired Taurean White as their head coach and general manager, effective June 1.
White, who replaces Erik Petersen as man behind the bench for the Stampeders, has extensive playing and coaching experience in his home province of Ontario. He has also coached in Western Canada, having previously been an assistant coach and assistant general manager with the Battleford Stars of the SJHL.
Dave Kirk, team president of the Swan Valley Stampeders, said the board felt White was the right person to take this franchise to the next level.
“One of things that stood out (for us) was Taurean’s passion and enthusiasm for the game,” said Kirk. “Taurean also has a great deal of knowledge about the game and we are looking forward to his arrival in Swan River in coming weeks.”
Kirk added the position garnered a great deal of interest, with approximately 20 people applying for the job.
White previously played as a defenceman with the Binghamton Junior Senators, the Oswego Admirals and the Seguin Bruins, before moving onto college hockey at Northland College, Adrian College and the University of Ottawa.
He began coaching as soon as his college/university career had concluded, beginning as an assistant with the Nepean Raiders. He also coached with the Brockville Braves, Mattawa Blackhawks, and the Kingston Voyageurs.
The Stampeders’ newest head coach and general manager said he is excited about the change to lead this team to new heights.
“I’m really looking forward to come back out west,” said White, who signed for two years with an option for one more. “It’s just a different model, a full-time model with a board of directors that want the best for the hockey team and the community.”
“There was an opportunity to come back out west and be a head coach and a general manager, and I thought I would reach out and talk to Dave Kirk about this job, and I’m very fortunate and grateful I’ve been given this opportunity.”
White also said he’s looking forward to moving to Swan River getting down to work, saying he expects to be in the Valley by June 1. In the meantime he’s already been reaching out to his contacts to familiarize himself with the league as well as the community.
“I’ve spoken to some of my colleagues who have been there (in Swan River), and they have nothing but great things to say about it,” he said. “I know the community is very supportive of their team, and that there is a large group of players who are eligible to come back. And from what I hear if we do get everyone back, there’s an opportunity to have some success for next season.”
Having experience in Central Canada, as well as in Saskatchewan, could provide the Stampeders some additional recruiting options.
“Taurean has a good network in both the regions, and we look forward to seeing how that plays out,” said Kirk.
The timing of this hire also works out well for the Stampeders, as May is an important month for MJHL teams as they prepare for the upcoming bantam draft and league AGM.
“As an organization we felt it was important to get the right person and the sooner you can get that individual secured the better off you will be,” said Kirk, “The MJHL draft is a good opportunity to network and it will be nice to have (White) there to participate on that weekend. Our next step will be to assist Taurean in getting an assistant coach/marketing director hired.”
White even has a bit of a connection to the Valley. He was a teammate of former Stampeder goaltender and Valley product Bo Storozuk when they played college hockey together at Northland College in 2006-07.
“I ended up playing with Bo that first year in Northland, before he transferred out,” said White. “Bo was a great goaltender when I played there – it’s such as small world to think the goalie I played with my freshman year was once the goaltender for Swan Valley.”
White is married with a young child, and they will initially remain back home in Ontario while he focuses on establishing himself with the Stampeders.
“My family is very supportive of what I do, and I’m lucky to have that,” he said, nothing they do plan to come up and visit as often as they can. “And I want to get there and focus on the job because we have a lot of work to do. We need to establish our assistant coach, and we have the draft coming up, and I really want to make sure I put in as much time as possible to make sure we’re prepared for next year.”