By Jon Roe
After eight seasons under head coach Scott Atkinson, the University of Calgary Dinos men’s hockey team will be moving in a different direction for the 2009-10 season. The Dinos announced Mark Howell, a former assistant coach for team Canada at three world junior championships and one world hockey championship, would be taking over the program June 3.
“We feel we’re taking a first step here towards that ever elusive goal of a national championship in men’s hockey,” Dinos Athletic Director Kevin Boyles said.
The Dinos have never won a men’s hockey Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship and last took the Canada West title in 1996. Last season the Dinos missed the playoffs for the first time since 1985, with a 10-16-2 record. Prior to that, Atkinson led the team to seven straight second round exits. He compiled a record of 108-103-10 in conference play and 15-20 in the playoffs before being let go by the team April 14.
Howell, a Red Deer native, is excited to be in Calgary.
“My goal is to win a championship here,” he said. “There’s work to be done to make that happen, to make that a reality. There’s a foundation that has to be established and changed as far as what being successful and being a champion is all about.”
Besides coaching with Team Canada from 2000 to 2002, Howell was an assistant coach for the Brandon Wheat Kings for two seasons, head coach and general manager of the Alberta Junior Hockey League Drayton Valley Thunder for three seasons and head coach and general manager of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League Westside Warriors, most recently.
“[He had] involvement at all the levels we recruit from and a good understanding of the CIS from his days at [the University of Alberta Golden Bears],” said Boyles.
Howell won a CIS championship playing for the Bears in 1992 before injuries forced him to retire. He also spent a season at Red Deer College under current Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock and three seasons in the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Medicine Hat Tigers.
“We were faced with a situation in hockey, men’s and women’s, that it was time for us to either do hockey right or get out of hockey completely,” said Boyles. “Clearly, the decision at the University of Calgary is to do hockey right.”
After the Dinos made some budgetary adjustments in the summer, Howell feels there is the financial commitment necessary to compete.
“When you look at the top programs across the country, [University of New Brunswick], U of A, [University of Saskatchewan], they’ve committed dollars to their program,” he said. “The faculty has committed that money, for me, that was instrumental in my decision.”