By Derek Holtom
MJHL Web Correspondent
The Selkirk Steelers will have a familiar face on the bench for the upcoming season. Dustin Hughes, who played with the Steelers back in 2003-04, was recently announced as their new head coach.
Hughes will run the bench with returning associate coach Jeff Mitchell, while Ken Petrash will return as the team’s general manager.
“I am excited and honoured to be a part of the Steelers’ organization again,” said Hughes. “Being an alumni, Ken Petrash was a big part of my moving my career forward, and he’s someone I’m very loyal to.
“So when I saw the opportunity, it was hard to say no, and it’s something I’m looking forward to.”
Hughes, who hails from Winnipeg, got his junior start in the BCHL, but finished his career with the Steelers, scoring a sizzling 50 points in just 25 games.
From there, Hughes played for the U of M Bisons, where he was a point-a-game man in his senior year. He then played some minor pro hockey, including a stint overseas in Germany.
After his playing career wrapped up, Hughes made the natural transition into coaching.
“I spent a number of years as an assistant coach and the midget AAA level, as well as the junior A level,” he said. “And last year I was coaching high school, while also started a skill academy at Garden City Collegiate. And this will be my first junior head coaching position.”
Having played at a high level in so many locations around the world, Hughes hopes to draw on that experience as he steps behind the Steelers’ bench.
“I had a really good experience playing in Europe,” said Hughes. “They have a different perspective on how the game is played.
“At the end of the day, the Canadian game is still the best way to play, but you can always learn how it’s played elsewhere in the world,” he added. “That’s what I’ve been doing since I started, playing junior in a couple of places, a little in the NCAA, at the U of M, and having had the chance to work with some great people like David Anning, Ryan Smith, Paul Krueger, and I feel very fortunate having had the chance to work with them.”
Hughes hit the ground running after he was hired, taking part in his first MJHL AGM, which he felt was a great learning experience for him.
Now comes the hard part – getting the Steelers back to the top of the MJHL standings.
“There’s no questions we’ve had a couple of tough years, and for the Steelers’ organization, it’s not something we’re accustomed to,” said Hughes. “We have a good group of returning players, and they are excited and motivated to get back to the top of the league.”