Eric Thurston is officially the head coach of the Alberta Golden Bears hockey team, with the 'interim' tag being taken off his job title. Thurston was serving on an interim basis while Rob Daum was on a three-year leave.
Thurston has put together an impressive resume in his four years at the helm of the country's winningest university program compiling a record of 84-26-2 in conference play, and capturing two national titles along the way as well as being named CIS coach of the year this past season which saw the Bears advance to the national tournament before falling to UNB in the opener.
Athletics Director Dale Schulha made it clear that the university received a great amount of interest for the head coaching position. This comes as no surprise as the head coaching position at the U of A is a highly coveted one with the program's rich tradition of great coaches and national championships.
The announcement won't change how Thurston has been going about his business, as he has been approaching recruiting and preperation for next season as if he would be the Bears head coach.
Thurston has a couple large holes to fill in the Bears roster before September rolls around. Aaron Sorochan in goal will be missed greatly by the Bears as he was far and away the best goaltender in the Canada West last season, and should have pro options for the upcoming season. Along with Sorochan, the Bears lose fifth year forward Ben Kilgour who was one of the team's best players the second half of the season and also held a key leadership role in the locker room.
Thurston is more than deserving of the job as he has been with the program for 14 years as a coach and proved himself as a head coach over the past four seasons. Thurston will now be able to continue to make his mark on the program moving forward without the 'interim' tag. As Thurston said in the release:
“It’s nice to have the interim tag removed so that I can really move forward with this program, but at the same time, I’ve never approached the job with an interim mind-set."
That leaves only Calgary unsettled behind the bench in the Canada West.