OHA Edmonton General Manager Randall Weber announced today that former U Sports Coach of the Year Eric Thurston has been named a full-time assistant coach.
Thurston, 53, has an extensive coaching background that saw him on the University of Alberta coaching staff from 1995-2011, serving as head coach from 2005-2012. As head coach, he won two U Sports National Championships (2006, 2008), was the recipient of the 2009 Father George Kehoe Memorial Award as U Sports Coach of the Year, and won the Canada West Coach of the Year award in 2006 and 2009.
“I'm very excited to be joining an amazing organization,” said Thurston. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with great coaches and first class student athletes. OHA has always been at the forefront of developing great players and great people.”
During the 2011-12 season, Thurston joined the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation in various roles, including head coach of the Hungarian National Men’s U20 and U18 teams.
Since 2012, Thurston has been the owner and operator of The Next Level Hockey Development, as well as a coach and player development consultant with the Edmonton Minor Hockey Association.
Prior to coaching, Thurston played with the Victoria Cougars where he collected 173 points (47-126-173) in 206 career games, while being named to the 1984 WHL (West) Second All-Star Team. He would go on to play one season of collegiate hockey at the University of Alberta, winning the 1986 National Championship, and six seasons professionally in Europe.
I can confidently say the Okanagan Hockey Academy had an impact on me as a hockey player but more importantly as a person. OHA taught me to bring my best self in all aspects of life including as a student, player and community member. I learned many life skills during my time at OHA that I will take with me much longer than my playing career and that is the greatest gift the staff, coaches, billets and community gave to me. I strongly believe I am a more well-rounded individual because of my time at OHA. I hope any young hockey player with drive, determination and a passion to become a better player and person is able to have the chance to attend somewhere so amazing. For me OHA gave me the best balance of academics, athletics, family and social life. I am extremely grateful for my time at Okanagan Hockey Academy.