The Cranbrook Bucks have hired Ryan Donald, a former Assistant Coach at Yale University, as the franchise’s first Head Coach and General Manager.
Donald and the Bucks signed a four-year contract which will kick in at the start of the 2020/21 BCHL season.
At this current time, Donald is an Assistant Coach of Yale University’s Men’s Hockey Team. Donald played four years at Yale between 2006 and 2010 before splitting time in the AHL and ECHL for three seasons. After his stint with professional hockey, Donald then returned to Yale in 2015 to serve as an Assistant Coach.
“Ryan is an incredible hire for our club and is absolutely the right person to build this franchise,” said Nathan Lieuwen, Owner and President of the Cranbrook Bucks. “Not only does he have quality experience coaching at high levels, but he also has great connections throughout the NCAA.”
From Edmonton, Alberta, Donald also played two years in the AJHL early on in his career with the Fort Saskatchewan Traders and the Camrose Kodiaks, knowing Canada’s Junior A system as both a player and as an executive at Yale.
“It was clear to me from the beginning that our ownership is passionate about this community and the success of our athletes both on and off the ice,” said Donald. “As the Head Coach and General Manager, I will bring that same energy and passion as we build a culture of daily excellence.”
After concluding his duties at Yale, Donald and his family will relocate to Cranbrook. Donald will relocate to the Key City with his wife Carly and their two daughters Georgia and Patricia.
“I am thrilled to be able to lay the foundation for success here in Cranbrook,” added Donald. “It is a rare opportunity to build a program from the ground up, and to do so in a place with a passion for hockey like Cranbrook is outstanding.”
Nathan Lieuwen has full confidence in Donald leading the franchise’s hockey operations and beginning the work to build out the hockey staff and continue recruiting.
“I definitely feel he is the right person to lead this team, to build the hockey operations side of this franchise and to make us an elite franchise in this league, which I think Ryan can absolutely do. I am very excited to work with him closely and to see what we can do here.”
“It’s an exciting opportunity for me in a lot of different ways,” said Donald. “Professionally, to get involved with an organization at the ground level that has a great vision, the ownership, the community, the support that’s already there and just knowing that area, knowing it’s a hungry market for hockey and it’s going to be, in my opinion, one of the best places to play in the BCHL.”
The Bucks hosted a virtual press conference on Tuesday to announce Donald as the team’s first Head Coach and General Manager.
See the full Press Conference below: