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.
At the end of grade nine, my parents and I decided it would be beneficial for both my hockey and scholastic development to attend OHA the next year. We toured other hockey academies, but ultimately felt OHA was the best fit for me. The coach’s and trainer’s expertise allowed me to learn more about the game, further develop my skills, strength and stamina and readied me to enter the WHL as a competent and confident 16 year old. With the support of great teachers and tutors my grades improved and I made friends that will last a lifetime. I highly recommend OHA for the player who is looking to take their game, grades and life skills to the next level."