The North Iowa Outlaws have announced that Jeff Crouse has been named the team’s new head coach. He replaces Dave Boitz, who has accepted the head coaching position with the Alaska Avalanche.
Crouse joined the Outlaws midway through the team’s inaugural season of 2005-06 as an assistant coach. Previously, he served as an assistant coach of the Santa Fe (now Topeka) RoadRunners and Alexandria Blizzard.
Crouse helped guide the Outlaws to their first ever NAHL Central Division championship in 2007-08, due in part to a defensive unit backed by goalie Robby Moss that allowed the second-fewest goals in the league during the regular season.
Crouse, his wife, Tracie, and daughter, Jacey, will continue to reside in the Mason City area.
Boitz, who served as the Outlaws’ head coach since the team’s inception, will become the third head coach of the Avalanche since the organization relocated from Springfield, Mo., to Wasilla, Alaska three years ago.
“It’s been an amazing period watching the Outlaws grow into perennial contenders for a championship, which was the goal all along,” said Boitz.
The move to Alaska is as much a desire to enjoy a change in lifestyle as it is a job-related shift for Boitz.
“My wife (Kim) and I have so enjoyed our visits in recent years to Alaska and all that it offers that, after much discussion, we’re looking forward to calling Alaska our home,” he said.
His duties with the Avalanche will commence later this summer. In the meantime, Boitz will assist in a transition period with the Outlaws.
He’s extremely thankful for the support he has been given, not only within the organization, but also from the North Iowa region.
“Words cannot completely express my appreciation to so many in the communities of North Iowa, including the players, billet families, sponsors, volunteers and the great fans that have all contributed to the success of the Outlaws,” said Boitz.
He also realizes that the team’s success reflects strongly on the Outlaws’ management.
“(Outlaws GM) Rick Wesp and I go back a long way, and I appreciate the faith he and the Motz brothers (Craig and Mark) placed in me, to build the team into a yearly contender for the Robertson Cup,” said Boitz.
He also feels that Crouse’s promotion to head coach is a positive for the organization.
“Jeff and I have partnered in coaching for nearly a decade,” he said. “ I’ve seen, firsthand, the rapport he develops with players. That strong relationship, along with his ability to recruit outstanding hockey talent and build a team, will ensure that the Outlaws will continue to play at a high level and give the fans of North Iowa plenty to cheer about.”
Wesp appreciates the effort and energy that Boitz has given the club during its first three years.
“I understand that opportunities arise, and I, along with the Motzes, wish Dave all the best,” said Wesp. “Dave is a class act, and has always put the team first. We had a three-year plan to play for the Robertson Cup. While we didn’t fully achieve that after this past season, we are on the right track, and Dave was instrumental in that progression.”
To accommodate Crouse’s promotion, the Outlaws have announced that Garrett Strot has joined the team as an assistant coach.
Strot has been active in the sport of hockey for nearly three decades as a player or coach. Most recently, he was the head coach at his alma mater, Osseo (Minn.) High School for 14 years.
His impressive resume includes playing on the collegiate level at Bethel (Minn.) University. As the mentor of the Osseo Orioles, he coached Outlaws defenseman Matt Morin.
Wesp is excited about Strot’s addition.
“Garrett is a person I have known for a long time,” said Wesp. “He is well-respected among his peers and is looking forward to this opportunity of coaching on the junior hockey level in the NAHL.”