Norfolk Names Kowalsky Assistant Coach

NORFOLK, Va. – The Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League announced that veteran ECHL player Rick Kowalsky has been named assistant coach.

Kowalsky was team captain for the Trenton Titans who won the Kelly Cup under Mike Haviland, who was named head coach of Norfolk in July.

Kowalsky played 12 professional seasons and appeared in 516 career games in the ECHL scoring 550 points (221g-329a). Kowalsky played five seasons with the ECHL Admirals scoring 240 points (98g-142a) in 244 games. The 33-year-old Kowalsky registered his 400th professional assist on December 4, 2004, his 700th professional point on January 9, 2005 and his 300th professional goal on April 9, 2005.

Selected in the 10th round (227th overall) by Buffalo in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, Kowalsky played 182 games in the American Hockey League with Cornwall and Portland from 1993-99 and appeared in one game with Norfolk in 2001-02, registering 92 points (35g-57a) and 297 penalty minutes in the AHL.

He helped Trenton reach the Kelly Cup Finals in 2000-01, scoring 17 points (7g-10a) in 12 regular season games and 12 points (8g-4a) in 13 Kelly Cup Playoff games before being sidelined by an injury. He played three seasons with Roanoke and led the team in scoring each season, including 2001-02 when he posted career highs with 35 goals and 83 points and 2002-03 when he had a career-best 55 assists. He returned to Trenton in 2004-05 and scored 52 points (23g-29a) in 55 regular season games and 23 points (10g-13a) in 20 Kelly Cup Playoff games.

Kowalsky played junior hockey with Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League from 1989-93, winning the OHL Championship in 1990-91 and 1991-92. He played in the Memorial Cup Championship three straight years, including 1993 when Sault Ste. Marie won the title.

Kowalsky joins six former ECHL coaches as an assistant coach in the AHL in 2005-06 – former Johnstown coach Scott Allen, who is an assistant coach with Omaha; former Macon and Richmond head coach Gord Dineen, who is assistant coach and director of hockey operations for San Antonio; former Trenton assistant coach Kjell Samuelsson, who is an assistant coach with Philadelphia; former Mobile assistant coach Matt Shaw, who is an assistant with Houston; former Columbia head coach Scott White, who is now director of hockey operations for Iowa and former Mississippi coach Bob Woods, who is an assistant coach with Hershey.

In addition to Haviland, there are eight other former ECHL coaches who will be AHL head coaches in 2005-06 – former Richmond and Virginia coach Dave Allison, who is head coach of Iowa; former Charlotte assistant coach David Baseggio, who is head coach of Bridgeport; former Mississippi coach Bruce Boudreau, who is head coach of Hershey; former Roanoke coach Scott Gordon, who is head coach of Providence; Don Granato, who is associate head coach of Peoria; former Dayton coach Greg Ireland, who is head coach of Grand Rapids; former Toledo coach Claude Noel, who is head coach of Milwaukee; and former Roanoke Valley coach Roy Sommer, who is head coach of Cleveland.

The AHL Coach of the Year award was won by ECHL coaches four years in a row from 2001-04 with Noel (2004), Geoff Ward (2003), Cassidy (2002) and Granato (2001). The first former ECHL coach to win the award was former Wheeling and current Carolina Hurricanes head coach Peter Laviolette in 1999. The ECHL had affiliations with 23 of the 28 teams in the American Hockey League in 2004-05 and for the past 16 years, there has been an ECHL player on the Calder Cup Champion.