Greenville, S.C. – The Greenville Road Warriors, ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, announced that Brian Gratz has been named the team’s head coach. Gratz served as the club’s assistant coach during the 2014-15 season and has been the interim director of hockey operations since April 16.
“Being a part of this organization is very special and I am honored to have this opportunity,” Gratz said. “I am truly humbled by the faith the entire organization has bestowed upon me. This is a great city with a very passionate fan base that expects excellence. I look forward to continuing its high level of success.”
“Brian has a tireless work ethic and has demonstrated that he can cultivate and maintain the relationships that will be critical to our roster-building process,” Executive Vice President and General Manager Chris Lewis said. “He also has a tremendous vision. He has a strong plan for our systems, our player development and for building our locker room culture.”
“Coach Gratz has a no-quit attitude and he has already earned the respect of the organization,” Owner Fred Festa said. “When I think of a great coach, there are three things that come to mind. I want a coach that will put the team ahead of his own personal gain, a coach that can integrate and be part of the community, and a coach that can develop young men and be a leader.”
A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., Gratz boasts six years of head coaching experience at the professional level. The 33-year-old has spent time in the ECHL, Central Hockey League (CHL), Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) and Eastern Professional Hockey League (EPHL).
Gratz began his coaching career with the Reading Royals in 2007 and was named head coach and general manager of the Indiana Ice Miners (Mid-Atlantic Hockey League) the following season, where he won 2007-08 MAHL Coach of the Year honors and earned the inaugural league title. Gratz continued his early success by leading the Jersey Rockhoppers to the 2009 EPHL championship.
After spending the 2009-10 season as the head goalie coach at Penn State University, Gratz was named head coach and general manager of the Dayton Gems (CHL) in 2010-11. In his first of two seasons, he made an immediate impact and bolstered the team’s win total, and was also named to the CHL Competition Committee in May of 2011, working with league officials to continuously assess and improve the league’s hockey operations.
During the 2012-13 campaign, Gratz served as the head coach and director of hockey operations for the Bloomington Blaze (CHL), and led the league in total player call-ups to the ECHL and AHL. He continued to serve as Bloomington’s head coach into the 2013-14 season when the organization joined the SPHL.
Gratz graduated from Penn State University with degrees in Finance and Economics in 2004. He was also member of four consecutive ACHA National Championship teams as a goaltender at Penn State.