Western Mustangs hockey head coach Clarke Singer will be taking the 2012-13 season off. Assistant coach Pat Powers will assume responsibilities as head coach for the upcoming hockey season, with Singer returning for 2013-14.
Singer, who has children involved in hockey, explained family was a primary consideration in making the decision.
“My family has grown a little bit older, and my wife and I have talked about me being home a little more,” he said. “We decided it was the right decision at the right time.”
Regarded as one of the best coaches in Canadian university hockey, Singer has won the Ontario University Athletics Coach of the Year award four times, and led the Mustangs to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport National Championship in 2002. Last season, he coached the Mustangs to the CIS final.
Singer’s coaching career with the Mustangs dates back to 1991, when he was an assistant coach to Barry Martinelli. Singer left the Mustangs to coach in the Norwegian Elite Series for three seasons, returning in 1997. He was promoted to head coach for the 1999-2000 season, and has held the post ever since.
“Without question Clarke has been a big reason for our success, not only last year but for all the years he’s been coaching at Western,” Keaton Turkiewicz, forward for the Mustangs, said.
Singer will remain with the team in an administrative role. His focus during his break will be on an area other than coaching.
“I’ll still be in charge of recruiting and we’re hoping that won’t change,” Singer said. “The other thing is alumni outreach—I’m trying to do a lot of work at reengaging our alumni.”
Singer, who holds a master’s degree in kinesiology and is a professor with the faculty of health sciences, also plans on focusing more of his attention on teaching.
Powers, who has been the assistant coach with the Mustangs for the last four seasons, has the experience needed to lead the team. Prior to joining the Mustangs, Powers coached hockey at the junior B level with the St. Thomas Stars and London Nationals.
“It will obviously be different,” Zach Harnden, forward for the Mustangs, said. “[Singer] and Powers have different personalities behind the bench, but I think Pat will do a good job.”
While everyone involved with the hockey program expects some degree of change, Singer commented this may work towards the team’s improvement.
“Although Pat and I believe in many of the same things, I think some things will change, but that’s not bad,” he said. “We’ve seen at all levels of hockey that some teams have been very successful after a period of change.”
Accompanying the coaching change is a large influx of new players, making for a rather different Mustang squad. Despite the changes, Turkiewicz was optimistic about the coming year.
“There are a lot of character guys on the team who will continue to work hard, and I feel that success will follow,” he said. “Powers is going to do great job—all the boys respect him and his knowledge of the game.”