ROCHESTER, MN – The Rochester Grizzlies, proud members of the NA3HL, announced on Monday, that they have hired Casey Mignone as the first head coach and general manager in franchise history.
“We’re excited to have Casey on board as our head coach,” said Grizzlies co-owner Mike Cooper. “We love his work ethic and NCAA connections and with his playing experience we think he brings a lot to the table with the ability to teach the game.”
Mignone has spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. A native of Ramsey, New Jersey, he captained Ramsey High for two seasons and went onto play college hockey at Lebanon Valley and Westfield State.
“I would like to thank Mr. Craig Patrick, Mr. Mike Cooper, and Coach Steve Howard for giving me this opportunity to be the first Head Coach of the Rochester Grizzlies, said Mignone. “I would also like to thank Coach James LaCour for giving me the opportunity to first break into the coaching world.”
Mignone played professional hockey for four seasons in the Federal League and Southern Professional League, including stints with the Cape Cod Barons, Brooklyn Aviators, Pensacola IceDogs, Cape Cod Bluefins, Augusta Riverhawks, Mississippi Surge, and Dayton Demonz. He even spent part of the 2011-12 season playing professionally in Australia, with the Sydney IceDogs.
“What intrigued me the most about this opportunity is the relationship we will have with the Austin Bruins,” said Mignone. “Having the ability to work directly with Coach Howard and his staff will be a huge advantage for us. Also, having an ownership group with a proven track record of running a first-class organization is something that will greatly help our players.”
Mignone retired from playing after the 2014-15 season and began his coaching career as the head coach of Montclair Kimberley Academy in New Jersey in 2015-16. The same season, he was an associate head coach for the New York Saints Bantam Minor program. From there he moved to Johnson & Wales.
“My experience as an NCAA hockey coach over the last two years allows me to know what college coaches are looking for in their players,” Mignone said. “As a staff, we want to make sure that we are constantly building good habits in our players. We do this so when the time does come that a USHL team, NAHL team or a NCAA team come calling, our players will have the tools and experience they need to meaningfully contribute right away.”
Mignone joins Mike Aikens on the Grizzlies staff after Aikens was named an assistant coach last week. Aikens is a Rochester native who played and coached for the USHL’s Rochester Mustangs in the 1990s. The Grizzlies have already signed several tenders for the 2018-19 season and selected six players in the NA3HL draft last week. As for the type of team Rochester fans can expect on the ice next season, Mignone is focused on speed and grit.
“We look forward to putting together a hard-nosed, fast-paced team that plays physical and hounds pucks all over the ice,” he said. “Although the game has evolved to the point where speed and pace is essential, we will still take pride in playing a physical brand of hockey. We have a great model to build on in watching the Bruins.”
Mignone also discussed the important of communication between the staffs of the Grizzlies and Bruins, in order to solidify the on-ice connection between the two franchises.
“Our goal as an organization is to develop and prepare players for any opportunity that comes to them and get our players ready to compete every night,” he said. “We will make sure that all of our players will be ready for all potential opportunities that arise for them by working in conjunction with Coach Howard and his staff on a daily basis. We look forward to playing a similar brand of hockey to the Bruins, that will allow our players to practice and play games with both teams, given the opportunity. The uniformity will allow for this to be a seamless transition for the players.”
Fans will get their first opportunity to purchase Grizzlies season tickets this week, which will come with a free ticket to a Bruins Central Division Finals home game.