The Peoria Mustangs Junior Hockey Club of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) are pleased to announce that head coach and general manager Jean-Guy Trudel has accepted the position as Head Coach for the SPHL's Peoria Rivermen.
The Peoria Rivermen are a professional hockey team that has operated in Peoria, Illinois for 31 years. The first Rivermen team played in the original IHL and has since been a member of the AHL (as the St Louis Blues affiliate), ECHL and next season will compete in the Southern Professional Hockey League. The Peoria Mustangs will be starting their 14th season of play in Peoria in August.
Trudel, 37, has spent the last three seasons as the head coach of the amateur Peoria Mustangs (North American 3 Hockey League). During his tenure, the Mustangs qualified for the playoffs in each season and compiled a record of 77-52-12. He won 11 additional playoff games and led the Mustangs to the NA3HL Silver Cup Championship this past March.
“The Mustangs’ primary goal and passion is to see Mustang players grow, develop and realize their full potential both on and off the ice," said Peoria Mustangs President Paul Wayvon. “So it’s wonderful to see our coaches earn and realize opportunities for advancement as well. Jean-Guy has done a great job at developing and moving many Mustang players to higher levels of junior and college hockey, so we couldn’t be happier or more proud of Jean-Guy for being selected as the next Peoria Rivermen Head Coach. On behalf of all of the past and present Mustangs we wish Jean-Guy and the Rivermen all the best.”
The Peoria Rivermen have been a successful training ground for many coaches to develop their coaching skills. One need only look at the current NHL Stanley Cup playoffs to see many recent Peoria Rivermen coaches: Paul MacLean (Ottawa Senators Head Coach), Mark Reeds (Ottawa Senators Assistant Coach), Brent Thompson (New York Islanders Assistant Coach) and Davis Payne (LA Kings Assistant Coach).
“With the success that Jean-Guy has had as both a player and a coach, as well as his familiarity with the Rivermen tradition, we feel he is the perfect choice to be our new head coach,” said Peoria Rivermen Owner Bart Rogers. “He has done a tremendous job with the Mustangs and we are confident that he can bring that success to the Rivermen.”
Inducted into the Peoria Rivermen Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011, Trudel played 177 games for Peoria over parts of three seasons. Overall, he finished with 234 points (87g, 147a) and had another 19 points in 12 ECHL playoff games between 1996 and 1998.
“The opportunity they are giving me, it is humbling, and honor, and it's a challenge I am ready for,” said Trudel. “The ownership group had its eyes on me right from the beginning, and that's why this happened so fast. I appreciate that they wanted me and believed I was the right guy.”
While Trudel’s coaching experience is limited to amateur hockey he has the opportunity to learn under an impressive list of professional coaches. While in the minors, he was coached by Paul MacLean and Mark Reeds, now head coach and assistant coach, respectively with the Ottawa Senators. He also played for Houston's AHL Calder Cup champions in 2002-03 under Todd McLellan, now head coach at NHL San Jose. And he played for Dave Farrish, John Torchetti, and Ron Wilson, all with current or past NHL coaching resumes. While Trudel played with AHL Peoria, Davis Payne (now with Los Angeles Kings) and Brent Thompson (now with New York Islanders) were assistant coaches.
Trudel broke into professional hockey at 21 years old with the ECHL Rivermen. Amidst frequent call-ups to the International Hockey League, Trudel still managed to put up 54 points (25g, 29a) in only 37 games. He returned the next season and racked up 113 points (39g, 74a) in only 62 games. He finished just six points back of Jamey Hicks (Birmingham) for the ECHL scoring title and appeared in eight fewer games. A starter for Team Canada at the 1998 ECHL All-Star Game, Trudel also ranked second on the team with 147 penalty minutes that season.
He graduated to the IHL/AHL ranks the next season and his success continued. He went on to become an AHL all-star four times in the next five seasons with Springfield from 1999-2002 and Houston in 2002-03. He also appeared in five NHL games with Phoenix and Minnesota. After four seasons in Switzerland playing for Ambri-Piotta, Trudel returned for one season with the AHL Rivermen in 2007-08. He led the team in assists (44) and points (67) in 78 games that year. He returned to Switzerland for the next two years and retired after the 2009-10 season.
Jean-Guy completed his third year as the Mustangs’ Head Coach by taking the Mustangs to the NA3HL Silver Cup Championship game this past March where the Mustangs were runner-up to the eventual National Champions North Iowa Bulls. During his three years as Head Coach, the Mustangs made the playoffs in each season and compiled a regular season record of 77-52-12 and a playoff record of 11-6. Prior to joining the Mustangs Jean-Guy played 14 seasons of professional hockey in the NHL, AHL, ECHL and Swiss Elite League. He also represented Canada on Spangler Cup teams.
Steve Ortman, Peoria Mustangs Assistant Coach for the past 13 season has committed to continue coaching in the 2013/14 season. Other coaching position announcements are in process and will be made soon.
The Mustangs would also like to thank and congratulate Mustangs’ Assistant Coach Kevin Tucker who has also accepted a position with the Peoria Rivermen as Assistant Coach.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)