The Calgary Dinos have found the man they hope can lead their men's hockey team to elite status in the Canada West. The Dinos have announced that Mark Howell will take over the head coaching duties after former head coach Scott Atkinson was dismissed nearly two months ago.
Howell comes to the Dinos after handling both the head coaching and GM duties with the Westside Warriors of the British Columbia Hockey League since 2006. Before that Howell spent time coaching the Drayton Valley Thunder of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Howell brings Western Hockey League experience to the Dinos as both a player and coach. Howell played three seasons in the WHL, first with the Seattle Thunderbirds before finishing up with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He was an assistant coach with the Brandon Wheat Kings for two seasons before moving onto Drayton Valley.
Howell played one season in the CIS winning a University Cup in 1992 alongside current Golden Bears assistant coach Serge Lajoie, before injuries forced Howell to retire.
After a very disappointing season that saw the Dinos miss the playoffs, Howell will have no easy task in trying to elevate the Dinos from the bottom of the conference to an elite team with the likes of Saskatchewan and Alberta. He does have some building blocks that if given more of a supporting cast should see the Dinos have greater success this upcoming season.
Forwards Torrie Wheat and rookie Brock Nixon led the Dinos offensively, with Nixon finishing second in conference rookie scoring well behind Canada West MVP, Rookie of the Year and CIS Rookie of the Year Steven DaSilva. On the back end the Dinos were led by Travis Friedley who was a Canada West first team all star and second team All-Canadian.
The Dinos lacked a true identity last season, and were inconsistent from start to finish. They weren't good enough on home-ice going only 7-7-1, including an OT loss and regulation loss to the UBC Thunderbirds in the final regular season weekend to let a playoff spot slip out of their grasp.
Howell's first order of business - recruitment. He will need to bring in some high calibre talent if his Dinos hope to erase last season's frustrations and get back into the playoffs. That work will determine just how successful the Dinos will be starting in September.