by Bruce Tippets
Ryan Howse has taken over the head coaching responsibilities for the Vernal Oilers.
Former Vernal head coach Mike Gennello decided to pursue his professional playing career.
Howse was first hired to be the associate coach.
“It’s a privilege to be the head coach,” Howse said. “It’s something that I don’t take lightly. It’s an honor to represent not only the organization but the town of Vernal. The people have welcomed me with open arms. I’m very thankful and appreciative of that.”
Howse inherits the 7-4-1 Oilers team. Vernal is sitting third in the United States Premier Hockey League Northwest Division.
The Oilers won the Northwest Division title last year and qualified for the national tournament.
He made his debut last weekend when the Oilers hosted the Seattle Totems at the Western Park Ice Arena.
Howse said Vernal Oilers general manager David Imonti played a big role in landing him the spot on the bench.
“I was supposed to come here last year,” Howse said. “David and I built this relationship over the past couple of years. He is someone that I believe in. I think we are on the same page in what we want for this club. It was an easy choice to come here.”
Howse isn’t a stranger to hockey life.
He is the reigning California Amateur Junior Hockey League Coach of the Year.
Howse helped guide the Hinton Timberwolves to the championship in the 2022-23 season.
“I came to Vernal with one of my Canadian teams two years ago to play the Oilers,” said Howse. “I met people here and the conversions I had were fantastic. That is something that drew me to Vernal. I played for the Utah Grizzlies in Salt Lake City. I was familiar with Utah. I can relate to people who want to take pride in where you are from and what you represent.”
The avid hockey coach is a former Western Hockey League All-Star and third round NHL draft pick of the Calgary Flames.
“I have been through those steps and been at those high levels,” said Howse. “I have seen what it takes. I’m the guy who is going to push these guys but we are also going to have fun and enjoy this process. That is what it’s all about. We are going to create a culture that is hard working. We are going to get the results and we are going to earn everything.”
Howse does work with all ages to help them progress in hockey.
“I’m a junior hockey coach first, that is my job and that is why I’m here,” he added.
He started teaching the Ashley Valley Raptors youth hockey players.
Howse is the coaching coordinator for the Raptors.
“All sorts of all ages come on and do some power skating with me,” Howse said. “I just told them to take advantage of me when I’m here. They have a resource here that has played at every single level of hockey you can play. I’m here to grow the game and make good people out of it while I’m here.”