Coach hired for Janesville hockey team

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John McPoland
Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bill McCoshen and the Wisconsin Hockey Partners took another step forward Wednesday as the process of building an NAHL franchise from the ground up kicked into high gear.

The Janesville team has hired Dane Litke, former head coach of the Bismarck Bobcats, as head coach and Sean Storie as assistant.

“Bill thinks we can be very competitive,” Litke said. “But you always have reservations about a brand new team coming in.”

Litke, 36, a native of Beausejour, Manitoba, played four seasons at North Dakota where the Fighting Sioux captured the NCAA title during his senior season in 1997. Litke served as assistant captain on that championship team.

Litke then bounced around the minors for five seasons. He played for the Nashville Ice Flyers of the CHL for one year, the Florida Everblades for two years and the Baton Rouge Kingfish for two years. Litke served as a player coach with the Kingfish during the 2001-02 season, his final year as a player.

“Dane has a great hockey network,” McCoshen said. “I also wanted to find a guy who would be able to advance kids from the Junior A level to the next level. That’s what our league is all about.”

After spending five seasons in the minors Litke joined the Bobcats in 2002-03 as an assistant to Chad Johnson Together they helped the franchise to three national tournament appearances.

Litke made an immediate impact in Bismarck as an assistant, shaping the defense as the Bobcats won back-to-back Borne Cup championships in his first two seasons, advancing to the national title game in 2004.

When the Bobcats failed to make the NAHL playoffs in 2005, Johnson’s contract was not renewed and Litke was promoted to head coach.

Bismarck went 31-23-4 that first season, losing its first-round playoff series to, ironically, Johnson’s Fargo-Moorhead Jets.

Litke’s team went 26-30-6 in his second season as Bismarck missed the playoffs for the first time since 1997-98 and had its first losing season in franchise history.

Litke’s record shows he has a history as a disciplinarian.

He took over as head coach of the Bobcats in May 2005 when Johnson’s contract wasn’t renewed in 2005. Litke led the team for two-plus seasons before quitting when management didn’t back a decision he made regarding player discipline. After warning his players that curfew violations would mean a ticket out of town, three players tested him by breaking the rule.

Litke arranged to ship the offenders out when owner Thom Brigl stepped in and put a halt to the plans. Feeling management had undermined his authority, Litke resigned after posting a 68-66-12 record.

“We were having some problems off the ice and I was fed up with it,” Litke said. “They didn’t think I would follow through. I did. We’re not going to have guys running rampant in Janesville.”

“That’s what I wanted,” McCoshen said of Like’s reputation as a disciplinarian. “I did my due diligence investigating that. The team owner was highly complimentary of Dane. I think Dane did the right thing at the time. Players need to be good citizens on the ice and off the ice if they want to move up.”

Litke made an immediate impact in Bismarck as an assistant, shaping the defense as the Bobcats won back-to-back Borne Cup championships in his first two seasons, advancing to the national title game in 2004.

While Litke’s forte is defense, McCoshen said Storie’s strength is organizing offense.

“Sean is the most creative offensive hockey player I’ve ever been around,” McCoshen said. “He’ll bring a European style of hockey to Janesville.

“I want guys who want to compete,” Litke said. “We want up-tempo hockey. We want guys to finish checks. I like guys who get their noses dirty and drive hard to the net.

Storie’s background includes 13 years coaching youth hockey at various age and skill levels. Storie played two seasons in the USHL and four years of Division III hockey.

The Superior native has operated the Great Lakes Hockey Academy since 2006.

Litke, his wife, Kelly, and 12-year-old daughter, Sidney, are looking forward to their impending move to Janesville.

“Bouncing around the country is part of hockey,” Litke said. “We had some good talks about this as a family. If my wife and daughter weren’t on board, I wouldn’t be doing this.”

Last updated: 10:26 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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