Hockey Operations


Steve Howard – President of Hockey Operations/Head Coach

Howard is entering his fifth season at the helm of the Bruins in 2021-22. He became the third head coach in Bruins history on May 1st, 2017 after spending the previous three seasons as an assistant coach for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL.

In his first four seasons at the helm in Austin, Howard led the Bruins to a 115-83-11-18 record, and to back-to-back playoff berths in 2018 & 2019. In 2019-20, the Bruins were poised to make their third straight playoff run under Howard but the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2017-18, Howard was named the Central Division Coach of the Year by the NAHL, becoming the first head coach in Bruins history to achieve the honor.

Howard was recognized as the NA3HL Coach of the Year after leading the Flint Junior Generals to the circuit’s Eastern Division championship and USA Hockey’s Tier III National Junior Tournament in 2014.  Over two seasons with the Junior Generals, Howard owned a regular-season record of 69-21-4.

Howard played professionally in the ECHL, SPHL, other domestic circuits, as well as in Europe and Asia from 2001 through 2008.  His first experience came as a player/assistant with the SPHL’s Columbus (GA) Cottonmouths in 2006/07.  After retirement as a player, his career in coaching and skill development including work with the Minnesota Advancement Program and Michigan’s STRIDA Hockey.

Justin Fisher – Assistant Coach

Justin Fisher begins his second season as an Assistant Coach with the Austin Bruins in 2021-22. Fisher came to the Bruins after serving as an assistant coach for the Adrian Bulldogs club hockey team in 2019-20. The native of Flushing, MI, was also a five-year player for the Bulldogs as a player, serving as Assistant Captain in 2017-18 and Captain in 2018-19.

Prior to playing in college, Fisher competed in the NA3HL with the Flint Jr. Generals and was coached by Steve Howard. Under Howard’s leadership, Fisher logged 54 total points in 48 games with the Jr. Generals.

A native of Michigan, Fisher now resides in Austin.

Hampus Sjödahl – Assistant Coach

Hampus Sjödahl is entering his first season as an Assistant Coach with the Austin Bruins in 2021-2022. Sjödahl joins the Bruins after spending the past year working
in skill and player development in and around the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota area.

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Sjödahl moved to the United States in 2014 to play junior
hockey for the Odessa Jackalopes of the North American Hockey League. He spent
two seasons in Odessa, totaling 103 points in 115 games, holding the franchise
record for all-time goals scored. He finished his junior career as a part of the All-NAHL Team, South Division All-Star Team, South Division MVP, South Division
Forward of the Year, and by attending the Dallas Stars Development Camp in the
summer of 2016.

Sjödahl continued his playing career at Bemidji State University, where he played
four years of collegiate hockey while pursuing a degree. In his senior season, he
was an Alternate Captain for the Beavers and graduated in the spring of 2020 with
a degree in Business Administration.

Cory Lonke – Goalie Coach

The 2021-22 season will be Lonke’s second, serving as the Goalie Coach for the Bruins. He will be tasked weekly work to improve goaltending to help the overall success of the Bruins.

Lonke is no stranger to the North American Hockey League or the Central Division, having begun his coaching career as a volunteer Goaltending Coach with the Minot Minotaruos in 2011, the team’s inaugural season. Throughout six seasons in Minot, Lonke rose up the ranks to serve as a scout and Assistant Coach. During his time in Minot, almost every goaltender moved on to play in the NCAA or the United States Hockey League, including eight NCAA Division-I commitments. As a player, the Proctor, Minnesota native played two seasons with the College of St. Scholastica (NCAA Division-III) from 2001-2003.

Previous to joining the Bruins, Lonke has served as Head Coach of the New Prague
Trojans (USHS-MN) for two years (2018-20). Concurrently, he is serving as a U.S. Scout for the Lloydminster Bobcats of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (2017-2021).

Scouting Department

Aaron Venasky – Director of Player Personnel/Assistant Coach

Aaron Venasky begins his fifth season with the Bruins in 2021-22 after three successful seasons in which he helped Austin make the NAHL Central Division playoffs. Before coming to Austin, Venasky coached at Lakeville South High School where the Cougars were Section 1AA Champions and State Semi-Finalists in 2016 as well as Section Finalists in 2017. Venasky also served as Head Scout/Midwest Regional Scout with the Bismarck Bobcats for six seasons prior to coaching at Lakeville South.

Venasky is a native of Edmonton, Alberta, and grew up playing in Apple Valley, Minnesota. He competed for three seasons in the junior ranks for the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL and the Billings Bulls of the former AWHL. After juniors, Venasky took his career to the collegiate level where he helped the University of Wisconsin- River Falls Falcons win three WIAC Championships. Venasky graduated from the University of Wisconsin- River Falls with a B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis on Finance.

August Aiken – Scout

Jon Jepson – Scout

Tyler Veen – Scout

Gene Zyla – Scout