Former Hawk joins coaching ranks

Laurier’s men’s hockey team has a new man at the helm for the 2010-11 season. Greg Puhalski was named head coach at a press conference on June 17.

Puhalski is a Laurier alumnus who once wore the Golden Hawk crest himself, helping the team win back-to-back Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships in both 1989 and 1990.

Puhalski was a scoring threat during his days in the OUA and still holds top spot on Laurier’s all time scoring list with 222 points and leads the club in all time goals with 88.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to coach at Wilfrid Laurier,” said Puhalski.

“It is a place that I remember fondly and I look forward to being part of the Laurier family.”

The former United Hockey League (UHL) coach of the year with the Chicago Hounds spent his playing career with the Kitchener Rangers and London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
Puhalski was drafted 62nd overall by the Boston Bruins in 1983, though he never made it to the big leagues.

However, he spent four years with the Toledo Storm of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), amassing 225 points in 123 regular season games before joining the Hawks in 1986.

When he left Laurier in the early 1990s, Puhalski coached his old Toledo team from 1994-1998.
From there he jumped to coaching in the UHL, winning a championship with the Fort Wayne Komets in 2003.

Puhalski joins Laurier after coaching two seasons for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ ECHL affiliate Wheeling Nailers.

Peter Baxter, Laurier’s director of athletics and recreation, contacted Puhalski in late May about the open position.

“Greg brings a wealth of experience from the professional ranks to our hockey program,” said Baxter. “His knowledge of the game earned while both playing and coaching gives him invaluable insight into the sport. We want to welcome him back to the Golden Hawk nest.”

Men’s hockey is in the midst of a championship draught, not having won since Puhalski played for the team.

He hopes to coach the Hawks back to being a perennial force, challenging for the OUA championship.

“Our play is going to be a quality home brand,” said Puhalski. “We’re going to challenge for the Ontario championships year in and year out…we’re not going to win every year but we want to give ourselves the best chance.”

Puhalski was actually offered the Laurier coaching job eight years ago, but he declined and Mark French, who now coaches the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, took the job instead.

But the latest alumnus to become head coach of a Laurier team is excited to move back to Waterloo Region with his wife and daughter to see some familiar faces, having moved around so much the last two decades.

“I think the attraction for me is having a chance to move back to Canada…and I think going to a program where I’m familiar with the area and I have friends still living there – that’s nice.”

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