UBC Athletics has hired Adam Shell as the men's hockey team's new bench boss. Shell was brought in to replace Tyler Kuntz, who left the team abruptly last month for an assistant coaching position with the Vancouver Giants.
Shell previously coached at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario for eight years and believes his familiarity with college sports will be beneficial for his new position.
“I understand the league,” said Shell. “I understand how athletics departments work and the role of the hockey program within the athletics department. I understand the student athlete; I was one. So I get that. It helps the learning curve in the sense that I just have to learn the players and get familiar with the opponents.”
Despite heavy criticism and 35 resignations within UBC Athletics over the last two years, according to Kuntz, Shell chose to focus on the positives of the program.
“I worked in an environment significantly more treacherous in many ways than UBC,” said Shell. “I love the people at RMC and my direct bosses were great, but working in a military environment is not easy.... Coming here, there’s issues everywhere, but that’s in the past. I was given great confidence by the alumni in the program and the department that this program is part of the future, and I’m going to be part of building it.”
In addition to coaching at RMC, Shell also coached the Serbian National Team to a bronze medal at the Division 2A World Championships in 2008, which gave him a different experience that helped expand his horizons.
“The athletes were incredible but their hockey knowledge was limited, so we had to play around with that,” said Shell. “What [the experience] also does is help you prepare for short-term tournaments. Our goal here at UBC hockey is to make the national championships, which is a very similar short-term tournament, so having experience and having some success in it will hopefully help me prepare for that.”
Last year, Kuntz nearly took the Thunderbirds to the national championships but ultimately came up short, losing in the Canada West semi-finals.
“The experience they got last year losing to Alberta in the semi-finals left a bitter taste,” said Shell. “But it showed them where this team can be, so my job’s going to be to take them to the next level, one step further, and we’ll do it by putting a few things I believe in but building on what Tyler started.”
Shell will look to start off his UBC tenure with a win when his Thunderbirds take the ice against SFU on September 10, a preseason match the Thunderbirds almost always dominate.