The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), have announced that Joe Coombs has been named the team’s new head coach. Coombs duties will begin immediately. Coombs is a native of Brantford, Ontario and has coaching experience in the Central Hockey League (CHL), the United States Hockey League (USHL) and the Central States Hockey League (CSHL), which is now the NA3HL.
“We are excited to have Joe as our head coach and believe he brings a track record of success with him,” said Killer Bees Owner and Governor Bill Stewart. “He has very valuable experience at coaching in the junior level and will not only help us be a success on the ice, but also assist in developing our players advance to the next levels of hockey.”
For the past three seasons, Coombs has served as the Associate/Assistant coach for the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. In those three seasons, the Fighting Saints posted a record of 118-45-21. In 2010-11 and again this past season in 2012-13, the Fighting Saints won the USHL’s Clark Cup Championship, signifying the national playoff champion of the USHL. All three of those seasons were spent under head coach Jim Montgomery, who was recently named the head coach for the University of Denver.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for me in a great developmental league like the NAHL,” said Coombs. “The ownership is first class and committed to being successful, and that was something that was very important for me and my family. I believe it will be very important for the team to be involved in the community from the start and I will be committed to leading that campaign.”
Coombs continued… “We are going to be playing in a very tough division in the South, but it will be a very good product and one that is exciting to watch with non-stop action and energy from the players. I think there is a definite desire for it in the Valley and fans will be excited that hockey is back. It is my goal to put a winning product on the ice and surround myself with a professional staff, who will also be committed to developing the players to move onto the next levels of hockey.”
Jim Montgomery, who was the head coach in Dubuque the past three seasons and whom Coombs worked alongside, said he is thrilled for his former assistant. Montgomery recently was named the head coach for the University of Denver of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. “Joe is a bright hockey mind understands the value of commitment to his players,” said Montgomery. “I think he will do really well there because of his dedication to the job, his hard work and his commitment to the job. Joe was a huge part of our success while he was in Dubuque. We at the University of Denver look forward to watching and following his players in Rio Grande and all of those in the NAHL develop this upcoming season.”
Prior to joining the Fighting Saints, Coombs had a successful tenure as the head coach of the Dubuque Thunderbirds of the Central States Hockey League (USA Hockey Tier III Junior, now the NA3HL). He led the Thunderbirds to three Hurster Cup Championships (2007, 2008 and 2009). Prior to joining the Thunderbirds in 2005, Coombs served as the head coach of the Topeka Tarantulas of the Central Hockey League during the 2004-05 season. From 2001-04, Coombs served as an Assistant Coach in the USHL for the Topeka Scarecrows and the St. Louis Heartland Eagles.
Prior to beginning his coaching career in 2001, Coombs played professionally from 1996-01 in the IHL, ECHL, CHL and WPHL. From 1992-96, Coombs played in the Ontario Hockey League, one of the three major junior leagues that constitute the Canadian Hockey League - first for the Kitchener Rangers and then for the Belleville Bulls. Coombs family includes wife Shannon, two daughters Regan and Rylan, and son Ritter.
Coombs is scheduled to be introduced at a public press conference on Tuesday, June 25th at 11am in the VIP lounge of the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)