SOLDOTNA, Alaska – North Iowa Bulls associate head coach Kevin Murdock has never been one to back down from a challenge. When he came to the Bulls in 2016, his challenge was to help the team maintain its torrid run of four straight NA3HL finals appearances. In three of those four years, the Bulls won a league title, a national title, or both.
He’ll take on one of the North American Hockey League’s most intriguing puzzles next year, taking the reins of the Kenai River Brown Bears as the team’s next head coach. The Brown Bears announced their coaching staff Thursday, taking over for Josh Petrich, who spent two years as the Brown Bears’ head coach.
“Kevin has experience playing in the USHL and at the NCAA Division I level. His commitment to player growth and on-ice success was apparent to us,” said Kenai River associate general manager Chris Hedlund. “North Iowa is a consistent participant in the Fraser Cup and successful in moving players into the NAHL. Kevin was a big part of that, and we look forward to his leadership in advancing Brown Bears to college. He is an example of the Ladder of Development success that is the signature of the NAHL.”
Murdock was intimately involved in the Bulls’ day-to-day hockey operations, and helped lead the Bulls to 119 regular season and postseason wins. More than 40 Bulls players and alumni in the last three years have moved on to college and NAHL programs, including several who have reached the NCAA Division I ranks.
The Bradenton, Florida native turned a three-year junior career with the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League and a three-year college career at Lake Superior State University into a brief goaltending career at the professional level, playing for teams in the ECHL and the Southern Professional Hockey League.
The next challenge for the former Laker and his new team will be getting out of the regular season, and then making its first true playoff push. The Brown Bears have missed the Robertson Cup playoffs each of the last five years, and have never won a playoff series since coming into the league in 2007.
In fact, as Kenai River finished its first decade of junior hockey in 2017, the team was set to fold due to severe financial difficulties. Only a $300,000 community fundraising effort, including key donations from the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and Alaska Airlines, put the team back on the NAHL map to stay.
The North Iowa Bulls thank Kevin Murdock for all of his many contributions to the team over his three years with the organization, and wish him continued success in his new role with the Kenai River Brown Bears.