The Dells Ducks Minnesota Junior Hockey League team announced on Monday the hiring of Bill Zaniboni as the team’s second head coach/general manager.
The team earlier announced Shaun Falzone, the team’s innaugural coach would not be returning, an agreement reached mutually by the management and coach.
Zaniboni, a native of Plymouth, MA is well-versed on the USA junior hockey system, having played in both the Tier I United States Hockey League and Tier II North American Hockey League as a standout goaltender on his way to a a three-year stint with Northern Michigan, a Division 1 team in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and finally a short run in minor pro hockey.
Zaniboni, who turned 30 this year turned his attention to coaching four seasons ago as an assistant with Soo Eagles, a Northern Ontario Junior A Hockey League franchise that just this summer has made the move into the North American League
The past two seasons have seen Zaniboni as head coach of the Bozeman Ice Dogs, a Tier III Junior team in the American West Hockey League.
In a telephone interview Monday, Zaniboni said there were a couple of attractions to moving to the sophomore MnJHL franchise.
Hockey-wise, Zaniboni said he was confident his philosophy would fit in nicely with the team’s
"I think really, on the ice and off, we have the same goals –primarily to see the kids move on to the next level," said the coach .
Zaniboni said the appeal of getting back to the midwest and "closer to family," was also in the equation for himself and his wife, Kim, a native of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
As he was speaking via telephone, Zaniboni said he and his wife and made their first return to the east coast to visit his family since their first son, Vanek was born six months earlier.
The Ducks management and assistant coach Jake Hebeisen all seem excited to have Zaniboni on board.
"We were impressed with his extensive background," said team vice president, Aaron Kirby, also in a telephone interview from Detroit where he and Hebeisen were both invovled in an arena management course.
"He has the qualities that we think will be very helpful to the kids," said Kirby adding. "He’s a great guy and he has a great family."
Team president, John Schwarz said he likes the ability of Zaniboni to multi-task in the position.
"At Bozeman, he did everything," said Schwarz adding the coach is being hired as a coach/general manager with the Ducks.