April 30, 2014, Vancouver, BC (ISN) – The UBC Thunderbirds Department of Athletics and Recreation is proud to announce Tyler Kuntz as the new head coach of the men’s hockey program.
Formerly the full-time assistant coach over the past four seasons, Kuntz takes over a Thunderbirds team that upset Saskatchewan in the Canada West playoffs, before losing to the eventual CIS Champions from Alberta in the conference semi finals.
A former defenceman for the Thunderbirds, Kuntz played five seasons for the blue and gold from 1999 to 2004. Following his career at UBC he played professionally in Germany, Japan, and the Central Hockey League for two seasons. This will be his first job as a head coach.
“I’m very excited to take on this role.” said Kuntz. “This is a great opportunity for our program to make strides both on and off the ice towards a reputation of excellence.”
“Tyler is most deserving of this opportunity to lead the UBC men’s hockey team into a new era,” said Theresa Hanson, Associate Director of UBC Athletics. “With his connection to the alumni, his familiarity with our current group of players and the athletics administration, not to mention his passion for the game, Tyler was the ideal fit for this position. We look forward to watching him grow as a coach, while taking this program to a new level of success.”
After acting as a player/coach in both Germany and Japan, Kuntz returned to UBC in 2006 where he spent two seasons as the assistant coach. He then left to pursue other business endeavors, only to return in 2010. He spent the last four years working under Milan Dragicevic, who was dismissed this past March following the Thunderbirds exit from the playoffs.
Kuntz, a native of Lumsden, Saskatchewan, is eager for the opportunity and believes his transition from assistant to head coach shouldn’t be a problem, just as long as the players are willing to put in the work.
“I’m always going to be the hardest working guy on the team and I am committed to the effort required to achieving success on the ice, in the community, and in the classroom.”
The Thunderbirds haven’t won a Canada West championship since 1971. Kuntz hopes to change that under his watch, believing he has the right group to do it.
“This upcoming season will be the best team we have had on the ice in a long, long time, ” said Kuntz. “You look at what we brought in over the last two years in terms of players, they are all top recruits – they just need some seasoning.”
Kuntz’s first order of business is to continue with recruiting while setting a new standard for UBC hockey.
“We need to hit the refresh button and set the bar high,” said Kuntz. “It starts with communicating with the players, give them our plan for next season and give it to them early so they can prepare this off season and be ready to hit the ground running come September.”
(Photo courtesy Bob Frid/UBC Athletics)