Hockey Operations


Steve Howard – President of Hockey Operations/Head Coach

Steve Howard is entering his seventh season at the helm of the Bruins in 2023-24. 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 the six seasons behind the bench in Austin, Howard has led the Bruins to a 189-124-18-27 record. While behind the bench during the 2022-23 season, Howard helped lead the Bruins to their first Central Division Title since 2015 and reached the Robertson Cup Final. 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, and other domestic circuits, as well as in Europe and Asia, from 2001 through 2008.  His first experience coaching 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 (MAP) and Michigan’s STRIDA Hockey.

Alex Drulia – Assistant Coach

Alex is entering his first season with the Bruins Coaching Staff after spending the 2022-23 season as a Regional Scout for Head Coach Steve Howard and the Bruins. In addition to scouting, Alex served as the Head Coach for the Maine Moose 18U program. Prior to that, Drulia was the Head Coach of the Twin City Thunder USPHL Premier and Assistant Coach of Twin City’s NCDC Programs.

A native of Fort Erie, ONT, CAN, Drulia has been involved with the sport of Hockey since his early years. Drulia played Juniors for the in NA3HL as a member of the Battle Creek Jr. Revolution and in the MNJHL with the Dells Ducks. 



Liam Thrawl – Assistant Coach

Liam is entering his first season with the Bruins in the role of Assistant coach after previously spending the 2022-23 season as a Volunteer Assistant Coach for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NCAA Division 1) and as an Assistant Coach for the Midwest Blackbirds (USPHL Premier) for the 2021-22 season. With RPI, Thrawl was responsible for pre-scouting/video, and individual player development. Before coaching, Thrawl played Junior Hockey in the NAHL as a member of the Janesville Jets during the 2015-16 season, and then as a member of the Bruins for the 2016-17 season. 

Before coaching, Thrawl also spent time as a scout for Neutral Zone and for the Utah Outliers (USPHL), attending amateur games and gathering information to pass on to the team’s general manager and coaching staff. He also cut and edited videos as a teaching tool for the players on the roster. Thrawl attended Ohio State University and graduated in 2021 with a B.A. in Marketing and a Minor in Organization and Performace. 


Nick Lehr – Goaltending Coach

Nick Lehr enters his third season as Goaltending Coach for the Bruins during the 2023-24 Season. Lehr also served as the Goalie Director with the Beijing Junior Kings in Beijing, China, as part of the Los Angeles Kings Goalie Development Program from 2019 to 2021. Lehr has previously worked with Minnesota Advancement Program (MAP) and MEGA Goaltending. Lehr has been associated with the Blaine-based goaltending program since the beginning of his playing career and has been coaching on and off since high school.

Before joining the Bruins in a coaching capacity, Lehr played four seasons at the University of Minnesota, where he graduated in 2018 with a degree in Business and Marketing Education. The Roseville, MN, native is the most decorated goaltender in Austin Bruins history, having played three years in a Bruins uniform between 2011 and 2014. He currently holds team records as a Goalie in appearances, minutes, fewest goals allowed, and wins in a season. He was also named to the NAHL All-Central team for his efforts during the 2013-14 campaign.


Scouting Department

Aaron Venasky – Director of Player Personnel/Assistant Coach

Aaron Venasky begins his seventh season with the Bruins in 2023-24 after four 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 before 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

Justin Fisher – Scout

Jon Jepson – Scout

Tom Maroste – Scout

Gene Zyla – Scout