Melbourne Ice head coach Kerry Goulet at this seasons AIHL Melbourne Derby. (Photo: Phil Taylor Photographic; Design: Madeline Irwin)

When it was announced that Kerry Goulet would be coaching the Melbourne Ice for the next three Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) seasons it made massive waves throughout the local ice hockey community.

Goulet is a well-known name across the ice hockey world, having a storied career in Germany, being the founder and promoter of the Ice Hockey Classic, which has been played to sold out arenas across Australia and New Zealand, and work within the world of concussion which includes a book titled Concussed!

Coaching wasn’t initially something Goulet felt was a path that ice hockey would take him, which started in Germany to eventual success, and now lands him in Australia where people still question the thought process in coming down under.

Melbourne Ice head coach Kerry Goulet sits on the bench going through his thoughts. (Graphic: Melbourne Ice Facebook)

“Never, I never thought I would ever coach,” Goulet told the Net, Sticks, and Chill Podcast.

The journey into coaching started in Germany, where Goulet took the reins of Timmendorfer Strand as player-coach, something that wasn’t on the radar for then 27-year-old.

After signing the deal, Goulet would unfortunately suffer a concussion that would change the course of his career and coaching aspirations, battling depression and taking medication to get through.

Goulet eventually returned and coached the Timmendorfer team. After early struggles the team went on a 14-game undefeated streak, saving his job and setting his coaching career on its path.

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Playing the top team in the league, Goulet said the team “won four-three and we won fourteen in a row”.

“After that we didn’t lose a game and it actually saved my job. So last weekend [May 7] we went to Sydney we were one [win] and three [losses], and had we lost both games, we would have been one and five. I could have been living the same thing, but we ended up beating the Ice Dogs.

“I’m two and four and it saved my job for another couple of weeks, so I’m excited about that. So that’s how it all came about.”

Melbourne Ice Chairperson Peter Hartshorne first tasked Goulet to find the Ice their head coach. Hartshorne asked Goulet to go through his contact list as the Ice were looking for a North American coach moving forward.

Veteran Melbourne Ice goaltender Michael James in net during a derby match this season. (Photo: Phil Taylor Photographic)

“He [Hartshorne] wanted to make a direction change and he wanted to bring in a North American coach,” continued Goulet.

“So, he had called me, first of December, maybe it was the middle of November, ‘hey Gouche, we are looking for a coach, could you go through your rolodex and see if you can get me a North American coach because we want to do a shift, because we have been using Swedish and a lot of European’ and I said ‘sure I will do that’.

“So, I went through my rolodex and thought of guys that would be perfect, I gave them three names and they negotiated back and forth, and as you know there isn’t a lot of money in this sport.

When none of the options were suitable for all parties, it was then suggested that Goulet take on the job himself.

“It has to be somebody who has a little bit of money, or crazy, or doesn’t have a job and I was all three of those.

The Ice have a 10-year plan that started prior to the 2022 AIHL season, with everything outlaid to Goulet about the direction of the club and what Hartshorne envisioned. A three-year deal was put forward and the deal was done to have Goulet take the reins.

“With the knowledge base of the Melbourne Ice, Peter [Hartshorne] talked about his goals and dreams. It didn’t come without me needing some autonomy that I could be able to do the things that I needed to do, we haven’t made any changes at the Melbourne Ice.

“I came here, he gave me the canvas to paint on, and so now I’m just starting to paint the picture and it’s not just me, it’s a complete group along the way.

“Some of those people that are in the group may have to leave or may choose to leave, may not see the vision that Peter [Hartshorne] has that I’ve bought into and that he’s allowed me to kind of give a little bit of my expertise.

“He’s [Hartshorne] very well versed in hockey, ice hockey, but he also knows with my experience around the world, and doing what I’ve done as a player, coach and general manager, winning trophies and all the things, all those accolades we talked about.

“It’s not the trophies and all that stuff, it’s the information and the stuff that comes from all that. How do you build a winner? How do you change a culture?”

With a long-term vision for the Ice to rebuild the club, who were once a dominant finals and Goodall Cup contender, Goulet is committed to getting the four-time AIHL champions back into contention.

Not simply here to make up the numbers, and with key import signings now arriving, Goulet didn’t just arrive in Melbourne to set the path for future success, lifting the Goodall Cup in 2023 is firmly in the sights of Goulet.

“I’m driven to take the Melbourne Ice back to the iconic team it was,” said Goulet.

“I almost feel a little bit like the Toronto Maple Leafs at this time, I feel your guy’s pain that they have struggled and they’re struggling right now.

“But if you do and put together the right building blocks, and have the right people around like a Jamie Bourke, like a Lliam Webster, what great foundation to start from and then going to our goaltending with MJ [Michael James] and the new one [Austin] Lefkowicz and all the great players, with Mackenzie Caruana our captain and all the youth.

“There’s a buzz at the Melbourne Ice even when we were one and three, nobody was scared and who was concerned? I wasn’t.

“I knew that you don’t win the championship now, you could be leading it, lead it all you want guys.

“Because you know what, we’re coming right behind you, so you better be ready.”

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