The Red Deer College Queens hockey team didn’t have to look far for their new head coach. He was right here in their own backyard and brings with him a very complete coaching resume as well as a solid connection to their former head coach.
Bob Rutz was named to succeed Trevor Keeper last month and it was an all around good day for the assistant coach with the Allan Cup champion Bentley Generals.
“Two good things in a row,” said Rutz, referring to the events which transpired in such a short time. “We ended up winning the Allan Cup and then I got a phone call about getting the head coaching position so I’m pretty excited about that.”
Rutz has a history of coaching young men throughout his career, including a stint with Bonnyville of the AJHL and the Bantam AAA program in Red Deer but says the prospect of taking over the reins of a female hockey team doesn’t make him nervous.
“I’ve drawn upon some other people, I’ve made some phone calls to people that have some experience with coaching females at a real high level,” he said. “I’ve researched this out a little bit to get some advice just to make sure that transition is a smooth one and I can communicate with the girls effectively.”
He added his relationship on and off the ice with Keeper is an ace in the hole as he’s just a phone call away if the need arises.
“I’ve known Trevor a long time, I guess almost 20 years or so and he’s a good enough guy that if I do call he’ll give me some good advice I suppose,” he said.
“He was my coach in university (Lethbridge) and we coached together at the midget AAA level here in Red Deer.”
The players said they wanted someone who was going to provide a level of continuity within the coaching ranks.
Rutz feels he brings that to the rink because of a somewhat similar philosophy as Keeper held behind the Queens bench, he said.
“Trevor and I have my own ideas but I think there’s going to be an easy transition there,” said Rutz, but having said that he wants to put his own stamp on the team.
Rutz says he has a sit down planned with Keeper to go over things like defensive zone coverage, power play and penalty kill strategies from last year but he says when training camp opens in early September he will add some wrinkles of his own.
“I know they’re built to win. They lost in the finals last year and they’ve got quite a few girls coming back plus some real good recruits so I don’t see any reason why we can’t take another run at the ACAC title,” he said.
He explained he did watch some of the Queens games last year while he was working with the Generals but he feels what he did see from the players tells him a lot.
“I know they play hard and the game means a lot to them and we’ve got a pretty good roster coming back so I’m excited,” he said.
The job used to have a teaching position at RDC attached to it but the recent budget constraints have eliminated that aspect so Rutz will keep his job as a teacher at Eastview Middle School.
“I’d love to be able to teach and coach at RDC but I like the kids at Eastview too,” he laughed.