Dan Rose Hits 500th Career Coaching Game

Sarnia’s Dan Rose Hit 500th Career Coaching Game

by C. Scott Holland

It’s hard to say exactly how many players he has coached during his 11 seasons as a Junior B head coach, but as of Monday night (Jan. 19, 2015) Dan Rose (Sarnia) is certainly the dean of all current Western Conference coaches. After being in his 500th career game as a head coach, he is now “king of the hill” since no coach in the West has ever attained that lofty mark.

The active Western Conference coach leads his nearest rivals by a good margin, too.  Although recently departed Chatham coach Mark Davis was second all-time with 438 games coached,  Merlin Malinowski (St. Marys), Mike Bondy (Strathroy) and Ron Horvat (St. Thomas) all are nearing the 400 plateau.

He began his Junior B coaching with London (1999/2000) and then took over the struggling St. Thomas Stars for five campaigns (2001/02-2005/06). It was with the Stars that his coaching methods translated into success as he moved the team upward to a solid second-place finish in 2004/05. But a high turnover of players and a mid-season slump during which victories were hard to gain ended his stint with the Stars.

In 2010/11, he was coaxed back into the Jr. B coaching ranks by Sarnia Legionnaires’ GM Bob Williamson. Following on the heels of former NHLer Pat Verbeek and Bill Abercrombie was a hard task, yet between Williamson and Rose they took a team with a high turnover of players and after just a single year had molded a successful club which finished first. A dismal rebuilding year followed in 2012/13 but last season they gained a respectable fourth place spot and have provide tough competition this season.

The Sarnia players exhibited how well Rose can prepare them as they rattled off an incredible 13 consecutive wins at this season’s start. Thanks in part to that winning streak they are currently in second-place and looking to finish as a top four playoff seed.

With 242 regular season coaching victories to his credit, he trails Chatham’s Dave Torrie (259) while fellow West coach Mike Bondy of Strathroy sits not far behind with 232.

Rose has not had much playoff luck despite having some powerful teams. In that magical turn-around season of 2004/05, the Stars easily got past Tecumseh, then topped Sarnia before falling four games to one to the Chatham Maroons in the division finals. Heartache embraced his first-place 2011/12 Sarnia Legionnaires squad when they were upset in the second round by the Strathoy Rockets. That’s as far as any of his teams have gone although those teams deserved a better fate.

The Point Edward native began his coaching career as a 17 year-old in St. Thomas house league. Coaching the Legionnaires has been an honour for him since he listened to many of their games as a child. He has coached at different levels for the last 40 years and may not have won any titles but he and his coaching staff have received many kudos from both players and parents. An unexpected highlight of his coaching career came in 2012 when the OHA named him the Coach of the Year and presented him with the prestigious award at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Also, he has won two Western League Coaches of the Year awards 2003/04 with the Stars and 2011/12 with Sarnia.


Photo Credit: Anne Tigwell, taken from Sarnia Legionnaires Facebook page

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