Interview 31.01.2017

Coach Dwyer’s last game

“To be able to coach in this league with some of the best coaches and players in the world, it's an experience I'm thankful for. As a coach I took a huge step forward by working for Medvescak,“ Dwyer said

Two summers ago Medvescak Zagreb announced the signing of a young Canadian coach who will be taking over the team in his first European season. “This is a great opportunity for me and a big step forward in my career,” said Gordie Dwyer at the start of what will be an almost two year adventure in the Russian-European Kontinental Hockey League.

Richer for the experience and full of memories and impressions on two whirlwind seasons, Dwyer will once again do whatever it takes to help Medvescak find its stability. At Club’s initiative, due to the ending of the season and led by management’s intention to financially stabilize the Club, Dwyer decided to accept a new challenge and move on to the Swiss Ambri-Piotta, a team in need of a change that’s fighting to stay in the NLA. “I thank the organization, I’ve felt welcomed here from day one. I’ve always worked with the best interests of the Club in mind and continue to do so, and I’m looking forward to this new opportunity in Switzerland,“ Dwyer said.

His expectations when coming over to Europe from a Canadian junior league and starting his first job as Head Coach of a KHL team, were spot on. Today, after numerous miles under his belt and 115 games coached, he will say: “To be able to coach in this league with some of the best coaches and players in the world, it's an experience I'm thankful for. As a coach I took a huge step forward by working for Medvescak. When you're challenged daily, by both the opposition and internally to get the best of out of your hockey team, you have to grow as a coach and as an individual. And this has been a very rewarding experience.“

The logistics of the league are challenging, both exciting and demanding and viewed by him as perks of a position he was in. “The KHL is a world class league and working in it is rewarding because you're surrounded by world class individuals and talent. It presents its own set of challenges, but it's very rewarding because you have a chance to see the world and grow as a coach and an individual.“

It didn't take long for the Dalhousie native to become a fan favourite and the mutual respect the fans and head coach held one for another, was visible every step of the way. “There were so many good memories, so many big wins, new experiences. But what stands out for me personally was the end of last season. I appreciated when I was called on the ice by the fans. That was something that doesn't happen very often in sport and something that was truly touching.“

Since taking over as head coach, Dwyer had his hands full and in a seemingly endless blur of great home games, some spectacular wins, heartbreaking loses and long road trips he continued to build a team that would have an identity. “There is a lot of team spirit and support from the organization and the fans. Our roster in the last two seasons was a multinational one and we had to build a team concept, a team identity and make our players believe in each other and team game. We've done a good job of that. And for that to happen you need the support of everyone. That's what's so great about being a Bear. Coming here you have a real sense of family and a collective mindset - we look after each other and we feel the support throughout the organization and from the fans.“

Coach Dwyer will be on Medvescak's bench one last time today for the game against Dynamo Moscow. Puck drops at 7:30 PM.

Connor Cameron will be taking over as interim head coach starting tomorrow.

The entire KHL MEDVESCAK Zagreb organisation thanks Gordie Dwyer for all his hard work and support and wishes him good luck with the rest of the season.

Photo: Igor Soban/Pixsell