Photo via Calgary Mustangs
After two and a half seasons, the Calgary Mustangs are in search of a new head coach and general manager. The former man in charge, Tyler Drader has accepted the position of new head coach of the SAIT Trojans of the ACAC starting in the 2019-20 season. During his tenure with the organization, no team in the AJHL has turned it around more than Drader’s Mustangs.
Drader joined the organization at rock bottom after taking over from Jeff Richards who left the organization in December 2016. The Mustangs finished with only eight wins that season which had them finish last in the South Division for back-to-back seasons. The following year, Drader transformed the image of the Mustangs both on and off the ice with a 37 point improvement to get them into the playoffs for the first time since 2015. Calgary wouldn’t get by the Camrose Kodiaks but making it to the first round was a massive achievement on its own. Drader and the Mustangs found even more success in 2019 with the team hitting the 67 points mark (29-22-9) which is the second highest point total in franchise history. Despite another successful regular season, they still couldn’t find the answers to get by the Kodiaks in the first round falling 3-2 in the series.
However, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and on Friday that happened. The SAIT Trojans announced that Drader would be the successor to Brent Devost who spent one season as head coach. Drader joins a Trojans team that finished fifth in the ACAC and were eliminated in the semifinals of the postseason by the NAIT Ooks in three games. SAIT are 12-time ACAC champions with their most recent coming in 2014. Two big holes he’ll have to fill are his captain and starting goaltender with Dean Allison and Payton Lee both leaving the program. He does, however, potentially have 15 players returning to the Trojans. One thing to watch out for is if the likes of Joseph Karpyshyn, Tyler Lentz, or any of the other graduating ’20s from the Mustangs follow Drader to the Trojans program.
As for the Mustangs on the ice, Drader’s successor has been left with a solid roster of talent to play with: Ashton Abel, Daniel Rybarik, and Liam Freeborn are all expected to return. That trio played significant roles during the Drader era.
However, off the ice, it is also being rumoured that the Mustangs will take a leave of absence from the AJHL for the 2019-20 season. Stay tuned via our twitter account (@belowtheice) are updates on the situation.