Kelly to take over as Brown Bears head coach

Former head coach Kevin Murdock stepped down in early May.

The Kenai River Brown Bears hockey team announced Keenan Kelly as its new head coach on June 15, 2021. (Photo provided)

The Kenai River Brown Bears hockey team announced Keenan Kelly as its new head coach on June 15, 2021. (Photo provided)

The Kenai River Brown Bears on Tuesday announced the program has chosen Keenan Kelly as its new head coach. He will take over the North American Hockey League team immediately.

This comes after former head coach Kevin Murdock stepped down in early May. Interim head coach Josh Dubinsky finished out the 2020-2021 season, which just ended for the Brown Bears on Sunday.

“We are excited to have Keenan Kelly join the Brown Bears as our new Head Coach,” Brown Bears General Manager Chris Hedlund said in a press release. “His NAHL experience, passion, and overall drive are going to be great assets to our organization. Keenan brings valuable tenure within our league, with proven coaching success, and overall knowledge of the NAHL that will ensure a smooth transition into the head coaching role for us.”

Kelly spent this season as the assistant general manager and associate head coach with the Wichita Falls Warriors in Texas, and has also worked for the New Mexico Ice Wolves and Austin Bruins.

Dubinsky will also officially take over as associate head coach.

He oversaw the Brown Bears as they made historic strides toward the Robertson Cup finals this year, coming back from a two-game deficit to play neck and neck with the Minnesota Magicians through Game 5, which Kenai lost by just one goal.

“Josh was great in the final push to our season,” Hedlund said in the release. “He was calm and poised throughout the playoff run and did a great job in bench management. We look forward to his second season with the Brown Bears and his continued growth.”

According to the release, Kelly will start his term by focusing on the upcoming draft and pre-draft camps in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio this summer.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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