The Kootenay Ice have an opening for a new assistant coach as Todd Johnson has moved on to be the bench boss for the University of Regina Cougars.
Johnson, who has been the assistant coach to head coach Kris Knoblauch over the last two seasons for the Ice, got the nod from the U of R, which made the announcement on Monday.
"I'm very excited," said Johnson. "Obviously, when you're an assistant coach, your goal is to become a head coach. This opportunity became available and I'm very excited to not only be the head coach at the University of Regina, but also to move back home with my family and build a home here in Regina."
Blaine Sautner, the former head coach of the Cougars, recently retired after seven years with the organization.
"Todd brings to the Cougars a record of success - from his playing days in the WHL and Canada West to his time as a member of Kootenay's coaching staff," said Dick White, the university's director of athletics, in a press release.
"We are confident that Todd is the right coach at the right time for this team."
The new job will return Johnson to his hometown of Regina with his two young children and wife, Miriam, who is expecting their third in the next couple weeks.
While Johnson's departure leaves a gap in the coaching staff for the Ice, general manager Jeff Chynoweth is proud to see another staff member moving up to a higher level.
"I'm very happy for Todd, this is a great opportunity for him," said Chynoweth.
"He kind of fits the bill as to what they're looking for-a young guy that has lots of potential-and I feel very confident that he'll do a great job once he gets settled."
Johnson has been with the Ice over the last two seasons, assisting the club to a WHL championship in the 2010/2011 campaign.
Moving up to the CIS level will be a somewhat familiar experience for Johnson, as he played with the University of Calgary while working towards his Bachelors of Education in the late 90s.
But it will be different from coaching in the WHL, as the players are younger.
"The players are older and obviously they're there for a reason-to go to school and get a degree and hockey is a huge bonus," said Johnson. "They get to keep playing the game they love and if there's an opportunity for them to move on after CIS, then I'd like to help that out and move them on, because that is an option as well.
"?So some different challenges and I'm excited for them."
Chynoweth recalls when he and Kris were faced with a stack of resumes for the assistant coaching position two years ago, saying that while they interviewed three candidates, Johnson felt like the best fit.
"It's been a great partnership, they've worked very well together in their two years," Chynoweth said. "They've become very good friends and I know Kris is very happy for Todd as is our whole organization."
Johnson said he will always remember winning the WHL championship with the team, and adds that his time with the club gave him the skills and confidence to move up to the next level.
"Working with Jeff and Kris on a daily basis, I learned a ton of things from both of them and I have the utmost respect for both of them," Johnson said. "Kris gave me a lot of responsibility and I think it's because of that, that I feel I'm ready to be a head coach and I feel very fortunate to have worked under Kris."
Johnson's departure leaves a gap in the coaching department for the Ice, and Chynoweth expects to fill it once he sits down with Knoblauch and goes through the resumes.
"We've already got lots of resumes," said Chynoweth. "That's one thing with today's media outlets and all the social networks-it doesn't take long to get the information out. I think we had four resumes after the first 20 minutes after the announcement by the University of Regina website."
The Ice are also losing another member of their front office, as Tiffany Harris-Johnson (no relation to Todd Johnson) will be leaving in a couple days.
She has been the director of marketing and public affairs for the organization over the last six years.