Temple ice hockey has dealt with its fair share of frustration in recent seasons.
Discipline issues, both on and off the ice, combined with failing to make the cut for the American Collegiate Hockey Association Regional Tournament the past two seasons brought unrest to the club and a visible need for a spark.
The club may have just found that spark.
Ryan Frain, a former Temple player and assistant coach, has been unveiled this week as the Owls’ new head coach after a nearly three-month selection process headed by senior players Kurt Noce, Joe Pisko, Nick McMahon and Chris Mullen.
Frain will replace Jerry Roberts as coach, who guided the Owls for four seasons and their first ACHA National Tournament appearance in the spring of 2011, before resigning for family reasons.
Frain played for the Owls from 2006 until 2011. In that time, Frain established himself as Temple’s all-time leader in goals (99), assists (102), points (201) and games played (178), and is currently the lone Temple player in the club’s history to have his jersey retired.
After spending the previous two seasons as an assistant under Roberts, Frain said he has longed for the opportunity since the news broke of Roberts’ departure.
“I played for five years, coached the last two as an assistant and [coaching] is definitely where I wanted to be,” Frain said. “Being with the guys again, though obviously in a different capacity, I couldn’t be more excited. I love this team and I care about them a lot.”
In an effort to bring change and new life to the club, the Owls’ chosen selection committee of the four aforementioned seniors initially wanted to bring in new blood to lead the club, but ultimately decided on their inside man.
“Originally we were looking for a new face,” Pisko said. “That’s what we thought we wanted. We were looking for a new face and someone who could enforce discipline. Then we started thinking about what we really needed and we wanted someone who could help us both in the long term and short term.
“That’s how we took it back to Frain,” Pisko added. “He was the most ready to take the position compared to anyone else we were talking to. He’s really familiar with the team. He was really successful as a player and he’s been around for a couple years as a coach. It’s been such a long process and we’ve covered all areas, and toward the end of it we realized he was what we were looking for all along.”
The need for tighter discipline proved to be a top area of concern for the squad.
Just on the ice alone with 214 amassed penalty minutes in 29 games last season, the Owls’ discipline issues proved to be their most pressing weakness of their most recent campaign.
“I think what we were most looking for was a coach that could enforce discipline a little,” Noce said. “We were trying to bring in a fresh face at first, but with Frain it was different because he brings in a passion and a dedication that none of our candidates would bring. He’s a guy everybody on our team respects with his history with the club. All the players are going to listen when he talks and nobody’s going to mess around with him. That’s the discipline we’ve missed the last few years.”
“I’m going to hold everybody accountable,” Frain said. “I’m not here to make friends anymore. I’m here to help these guys win and have some fun doing it. That’s the name of the game here.”
Frain’s first order of business this summer will be to establish a new attitude and commitment requirement for the club.
“I want to send out an email to all the players that played last year and are returning that says just because I’m coming back as coach, don’t think, ‘Coach Frain’s back, I’m automatically on the team,’” Frain said. “That’s not the attitude I want them to come in with, because that’s not how things are going to be run. I want people to be working out over summer and I want them to be conditioned.
“I think he’s going to shock a lot of people,” Pisko said. “He’s not coming in as your friend anymore. I think everybody’s going to see a whole new side of Frain this year. He doesn’t take anything from anybody. He’s going to run things the way he wants to run them and I think people are going to find that out really quickly.”
While Frain will set out to bring a new attitude and business-like approach to both practice and games, he stressed his desire to win not only for himself, but also for the players and the team he’s known and loved for years.
“I care about this team and I want to see them win,” Frain said. “That’s what’s going to drive the fun here. I’m here to have fun too. Losing’s not fun. We’re going to work hard, we’re going to win hockey games and we’re going to have a lot fun doing it. I can’t wait to get started.”
“I couldn’t be happier that they chose me as a head coach,” Frain added. “It’s a great opportunity. I know I’m still pretty young, but I have a lot of experience and I played here for five years. I have a pretty good brain for the game and I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m really excited about this. I want to bring a winning team back to Temple and I want to help erase the frustration of the last two years.”
Andrew Parent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @daParent93.