MASON CITY, Iowa – “Dock” is back.
After a successful two-year stint as the head coach of the North American Hockey League’s Kenai River Brown Bears, Kevin Murdock is making his return to Mason City, rejoining the Bulls as their associate head coach and associate general manager for the 2021-22 NAHL season.
The move brings Murdock back to the city where his junior coaching career began, serving as an assistant to Bulls head coach and general manager Todd Sanden from 2016 to 2019. During his initial three-year run in Mason City, serving the last of those years as the team’s associate head coach, he helped to lead North Iowa to 106 regular-season wins, two NA3HL division championships and two appearances in the Fraser Cup national tournament.
“I am very excited to come back to North Iowa and help make the transition to the NAHL,” said Murdock. “Mason City is a first-class hockey town – from the sponsors to the fan support, it is second to none from any place I’ve seen within the league. I’d like to thank F&S Management and Todd Sanden for this opportunity. I can’t wait to get back to work.”
His two years as head coach of the NAHL’s Kenai River Brown Bears yielded continued success, with a third-place finish in the league’s Midwest Division last season and a Robertson Cup playoff bid this year, the club’s first since 2014. The Brown Bears’ .577 winning percentage in the COVID-shortened 2019-20 campaign was the highest such mark in team history, and their first top-three divisional finish since 2013. His .537 winning percentage over the last two years with the club is also the highest career coaching mark in Brown Bears history. Nine players with Kenai River ties committed to NCAA Division I programs last season, far and away the club’s highest-ever total, with six more committing to Division I schools this year.
“I’d like to thank the Brown Bears for the opportunity to be part of their organization and community these past two seasons,” said Murdock. “I was extremely fortunate to meet some amazing people during my time in Alaska, even though things didn’t end the way I’d hoped. I will forever be grateful for the relationships I made and the players I was fortunate to coach. I wish them the best of luck in the playoffs this season.”
Murdock’s return to Mason City is also an important step as the organization builds a roster for its entry in the NA3HL for the upcoming season, with that team’s location and identity to be announced soon. The North Iowa Bulls coaching staff will continue to build the roster for that team until an NA3HL coaching staff is officially announced.
“We are excited to have Kevin Murdock back with the North Iowa Bulls,” said Sanden. “We know that Kevin will bring a level of professionalism and effort that will give us an opportunity to be competitive in the very tough Central Division and in the NAHL as a whole. Kevin has proven in his time in the league that he can lead teams to success. His experience as a head coach will benefit our team immensely and we will lean on his experience to develop players and our team through the process. Being our Associate Head Coach and Associate General Manager will allow Coach Murdock to utilize his skills as a coach and be directly responsible for player moves and acquisitions. As the North Iowa community transitions back to the NAHL, we expect Coach Murdock to be an integral part of a smooth transition, and we are pleased that he has returned.”
Originally from Bradenton, Florida, Murdock enjoyed a decorated goaltending career for both the Shattuck- St. Mary’s prep hockey program and for the United States Hockey League’s Lincoln Stars, where he led the league in save percentage and goals-against average in the 2008-09 season. After a freshman season of college hockey at Minnesota State University, he returned to set a team record with 52 appearances, and his 29 wins in 2010-11 ranks second in team history for a single season. As an NCAA Division I goaltender at Lake Superior State University, his career save percentage remains the third-best in school history. Murdock would finish his playing career in 2014-15, spending the season with the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Fayetteville FireAntz and earning brief ECHL call-ups to the Tulsa Oilers and Fort Wayne Komets.
The North Iowa Bulls proudly welcome Kevin Murdock back to their organization, and look forward to his contributions to the team’s success during the upcoming season.
2021-22 season tickets are on sale now for the Bulls’ first season as members of the North American Hockey League. For more information, or to purchase season tickets, call 641-423-4625 or visit www.northiowabulls.com.