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.
In 2010 I was fortunate enough to play at the Okanagan Hockey Academy on the Midget Prep team. With coaches like Robert Dirk and Greg Holst it was an unbelievable year. I have to this day still never been on such a close-knit team. It was my first year of midget hockey and that meant a lot more travel. Playing in the CSSHL I got the opportunity to play in some pretty awesome spots. The league helped me learn to stay on top of school, which has helped me not only in college but also in junior. I was able to make an easy jump to junior and college academically with the help of Dave Nackoney, a guidance counselor at Penticton Secondary School who works with all the student athletes. To this day if I need anything he is always more than willing to help. It is the great staff that left such an impression on me, and made it possible for me to be where I am today.