Brad Ralph has stepped aside after one season as head coach of the Kelowna Rockets.

Rockets and Ralph part company

Head coach Brad Ralph decides to move on after a year behind the bench of the WHL's Kelowna Rockets

When the 2016-17 Western Hockey League campaign faces off in September, the Kelowna Rockets will be led by their third new head coach in as many seasons.

The Rockets are in the market for a new bench boss after the club and Brad Ralph this week mutually agreed to go their separate ways.

The 34-year-old coach from Richmond, ON was hired last August to replace Dan Lambert who a year earlier had also stepped aside after just one season at the helm.

Ralph guided the Rockets to a 48-2-4-0 regular season record and the team’s third consecutive trip to the Western Conference final, before being swept from the playoffs by the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Ralph coached the previous five seasons in the pro ranks—all with winning records—before joining Kelowna, including the last three with Idaho Steelheads of the East Coast Hockey League.

Rockets head coach Bruce Hamilton said coaching in a vastly different environment—minor pro as opposed to major junior—wasn’t a simple transition for Ralph.

“This was a big challenge for him coming here,” Hamilton added. “One, because of the expectations we have and, two, not having worked in junior hockey…and that was a real adjustment.

“The day-to-day commitment to the kids at this level takes a lot, you deal with them 24 hours a day…it’s not like the pros. It’s not a knock on the kind of coach he is, because he’s had good success.”

As well as Ralph did in his first season in charge of a WHL team, Hamilton believes the young coach’s skills may be better suited to the pro game.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Brad, I think he’s a real good coach,” said Hamilton. “He came from coaching at the pro ranks and I think he’ll be an excellent coach again at that level.”

Ralph couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday, but did make the following statement in a press release issued by the team.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity given to me by the Rockets this past season,” said Ralph. “I’m very proud of the success which the club enjoyed in reaching the Western Conference finals. I wish the club and its players the best of success in the future.”

After coming within one shot of a Memorial Cup title last year, the Rockets had hoped to make another lengthy run this season under Ralph’s guidance.

And while making it to the third round of the postseason was better than 18 other teams in the WHL, it still fell below the standard the Rockets and their fans have become accustomed to.

“You can’t knock the record we had with Brad, but he did inherit a good team,” Hamilton said. “In his defence, this is not an easy place to come into where expectations are high and everything is new to you, the other coaches, the players, the organization.

“We’ve developed our players and a wonderful culture here and we want to keep that going.”

Unlike last year when Lambert resigned in early July, Hamilton said the Rockets will have plenty of time to search for a replacement for Ralph.

Hamilton said the resumes have already started rolling in and expects there will be plenty of qualified candidates to consider over the next several weeks.

“This time we’re going to have lots of time to meet with them and get to know them, see what each of them have to offer,” he said. “You generally want to close in on someone before the NHL draft, so that gives up a big jump on where we were at last year.”

Coaches interested in appealing for the position can email Bruce Hamilton at bruceh@kelownarockets.com.

 

 

Just Posted

Vees take 4-1 victory over Grizzlies

Shorthanded on defence, the team was able to pull off the win

Share-a-Smile Telethon raises over $20,000 in first hour

The fundraising event goes until 5 p.m. today at the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre

Penny has been found!

Carolyn Hawkins located the missing pooch in the Uplands Court area of Penticton

KVR Middle School teams claim Okanagan Volleyball Championships

The Grade 8 teams defeated Oliver and Summerland to bring home the win

Don’t miss the SS Sicamous Christmas Market this weekend

The event features 40 local vendors and runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

South region forestry workers nearly in legal strike position

Talks broke down between USW and IFLRA, resulting in booking out of provincial mediator

Three UBC Okanagan students awarded women in tech scholarships

Computer science and math students hope the award will inspire others

Most Read