(Cody, WY) The Yellowstone Quake Board of Directors has announced the hiring of a new coach for Cody’s Junior A hockey team. Craig Furstenau, the former head coach of the Oakland University (MI) Grizzlies and a coach in the prestigious Little Caesars hockey organization in Michigan for three years, has agreed to a two-year contract. Furstenau takes the reigns from Sean Hogan, who has accepted an assistant coaching position at Western Michigan University (NCAA Division I). Hogan will continue his association with the Quake as a scout and consultant.
"We are excited to have Coach Furstenau join our organization," Quake Board President Bob Bole said, "His enthusiasm and background will help our program to continue building quality hockey players." Hogan stated, "I am confident that Craig will do a great job. I have worked with Craig and have known him for many years. His hockey knowledge and hockey background are unmatched, and I am excited for the Quake this season."
Last season the Yellowstone Quake finished second in the America West division of the Northern Pacific Hockey League (Nor Pac) and were the 2008-2009 regular season America West Division champions.
Furstenau spent this past season as an assistant coach with the Toledo Walleye of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), the professional hockey league AA affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks. During Furstenau’s three-year tenure as a coach in the Little Caesar’s organization, his teams qualified for the national championships twice. His Midget Minor team won the state and national championships in 2008. During his coaching tenure with the Oakland University Men’s Hockey team, the Grizzlies took the Greater Midwest Hockey League season titles in 2003 and 2004 after the team finished last in 2002. After going 23 games without a loss in 2004, Furstenau led OU to the GMHL play-offs and won the American College Hockey Association’s Division II Championship. Following a season that included a 20-game winning streak, OU lost the 2005 title game in overtime. OU was the first team ever to win consecutive seasons and the first team to win the regular season and the playoff titles in same season. Hogan was Furstenau’s assistant coach when the Grizzlies won their first national championship in 2004.
In addition to coaching duties, Furstenau works one-on-one with clients to help develop their skating and playing skills. He also hosts hockey clinics and enjoys teaching children how to skate.
When asked why he would want to coach in Cody, Furstenau said, "I have always wanted an opportunity to coach hockey in the West. I take my annual vacations in Wyoming and Montana in order to fly fish." Furstenau was already scheduled to go fishing in the Cody area in early August when he applied for the Quake coaching position. "I live and breathe hockey," Furstenau said during his interview. Furstenau had to give up on a career as a hockey player when he suffered too many concussions, but he’s been coaching ever since. "There are days when I’m on skates for six hours. I am very passionate about the game, and I take pride in my ability to develop players, not only on the ice but with life skills. I want to play an integral role in helping players achieve their dream of playing hockey at higher levels." The Quake is nationally recognized for promoting their players to the next level. Nearly half of last season’s team have already made teams in the North American Hockey League (NAHL), the only Tier II junior hockey league, and the United States Hockey League (USHL), a Tier I junior hockey league, or will play collegiate hockey for NCAA Division 3 or American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) teams. "The most important aspect of junior hockey is the ability of the organization to put more emphasis on promoting players. A good win-loss record is secondary. The Yellowstone organization has been able to do both. Winning is important, but striving to win, and the attitude is what develops players and gives them the opportunity to compete at the next level."
A native of Grosse Ile, Michigan, Furstenau is the youngest of four, 32, single, and has nine nieces and nephews. He completed his B.S. degree in Liberal Arts at Oakland University. Besides hunting and fishing, Furstenau enjoys painting, drawing and landscaping.
The next Quake tryout camp will take place in Arvada, Colorado August 13-15, 2010 at the Apex Arena. The Yellowstone Quake resume regular season play September 24 at home against Missoula.