CASPER, WY -- John Ambrefe is back in Casper.
After leaving the team a year ago to take a job in Springfield, Mo., which also competed in the Western States Hockey League, Ambrefe is returning to the Wyoming team he coached in its first three years of its existence.
Initially, Ambrefe had no plans to coach this season. But with new ownership convincing him to take the job, and a rebranding as the Casper Bobcats – the team used to be the Coyotes – Ambrefe is excited about the opportunity to come back.
“It’s great. We like the community and the fans are glad we are coming back,” Ambrefe said. “We’re looking forward to it. I’m not looking forward to the weather because I’m here living in Florida, but I’m looking forward to coaching hockey again there.”
Casper had folded earlier in the spring but a group of businessmen wanted to keep a team there and Ambrefe talked with the league commissioner about what could be done to make that happen.
“He didn’t want to lose that footprint. It wasn’t too hard to make things happen. I was offered a job as the coach and general manager and I accepted,” Ambrefe said.
Ambrefe was hired in early June and has had to get his footing set when it comes to recruiting. It’s a late start but hardly something he believes will deter him from bringing in talent that can help this team overcome last year’s difficult season.
“We got a late start to recruiting but we’re working hard and feel like we can pull it together,” Ambrefe said. “I have the same expectations as always, and that’s to put the best team on the ice and compete for a divisional title and the Thorne Cup.”
Ambrefe expects to put skilled players on the ice that have what it takes to play at a high level in one of the top junior hockey leagues in the country.
“We’re looking forward to having guys who are going to do the fundamentals right, work hard, play solid on offense and on defense. If we do that and get great goaltending, we’re going to be in great shape,” Ambrefe said.