Former Kenai River Brown Bears head coach Oliver David on Thursday was named an assistant coach with the Portland (Oregon) Winterhawks, a major junior team in the Western Hockey League.
The move for David comes after three seasons with the Dubuque (Iowa) Fighting Saints with the Tier I United States Hockey League, during which he rose to associate head coach and assistant general manager.
“My ambition is to be a professional hockey coach,” David said in a statement released by the Saints. “My ambition is to reach the top. This is the next step in my journey.”
The Saints compiled a record of 108-61-2-9 during the past three seasons, losing in the Clark Cup championship final last season.
David was the head coach of the Tier II Brown Bears of the North American Hockey League the previous four seasons, turning around the program and finishing with an 87-74-17 mark.
Major junior hockey differs from the USHL and NAHL in that major junior players receive a small stipend and are no longer eligible for NCAA hockey. Major junior players are committed to turning pro after their junior days are over.
David will work under Mike Johnston, the vice president, general manager and head coach in Portland.
Johnston was previously with Portland from 2008 to 2014, tallying a record of 231-114-10-10. He made the WHL final from 2011 to 2014, winning the championship in 2013.
Before the 2014-15 season, Johnston became the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL.
He was relieved of those duties in December 2015, and new coach Mike Sullivan led the Pens to a Stanley Cup title.
“I’m excited to get to work,” David said in a statement released by the Winterhawks. “To have the opportunity to be a Winterhawk is surreal at the moment.
“Because of people like Mike, Matt Bardsley and Kyle Gustafson, the Portland Winterhawks are exactly where I want to be. I look forward to growing with these guys, and ultimately contributing to the success of our organization.”
David, who at one time played for the now-defunct Peninsula Chinooks, coached youth hockey in his native California from 2005 to 2009.
“We are fortunate to be able to hire a coach of Oliver’s caliber,” Johnston said. “His experience with coaching junior hockey players as well as his background with USA Hockey will be a great addition to our organization.”