Former Dundee Stars Head Coach, Roger Hunt has been away from Scotland for over a decade, but he still holds a lot of fond memories of his time in Tayside.

By Kris Smith

Roger joined the Stars as an Assistant-Coach to Tony Hand for the club’s first ever season in 2001 and he would later become the Head Coach in 2003 and lead the team up until his departure in 2009.

The native of Dunnville, Ontario first came to the UK in 1991, when he signed with the Murrayfield Racers for one season and they were playing in the British National League (BNL) at that time.

Hunt returned to Murrayfield to play for the Royals in 1995 until 1998 and he then spent the following year with the Edinburgh Capitals.

The 52-year-old stayed with the Caps for the next two seasons but as an Assistant Coach before moving onto join up with Hand in Dundee.

Roger also held the positions of GB Under 20’s Head Coach and Assistant Coach during his time with the Stars and he also was Rick Starchan’s and Chris McSorley’s number two for the Men’s team.

Firstly, Roger explained what he has been up to since leaving Dundee and he said: “I have remained in hockey.

“The first year I came home and I coached a Tier II Junior.A team and it helped me learn a lot about the age group I would spend the next ten years dealing with.

“So, for the last decade now, I have been with the Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and for the first four years I was an Assistant Coach.

“I had some great times working with DJ Smith, who now is the head coach with the Ottawa Senators and then in 2015, I was the General Manager when we won the Memorial Cup in Quebec City.

“I am lucky to be in an organization that has produced legends like Bobby Orr, Eric Lindros and John Tavares and now for the last six years, I have been the Vice President / General Manger.”

Hunt also shared some of his memories of his eight years with the Stars and added: “The best part for me was from day one, getting there and meeting the Wards and joining Tony Hand and Colin Wilson’s staff, there was a tremendous amount of emphasis on winning.

“They wanted to win everything and that first year we did, haha.

“Tony had assembled a great group of players who all bought in to his way and system, he always had the eye of the tiger and his players took that on also.”

However, even the clean sweep of silverware in the first season is not his favourite moment with the Stars.

“I was very successful in Dundee as an Assistant Coach but that was mostly to do with working and learning from Tony”, explained Roger.

He continued: “As I said earlier the first year we won everything.

“However, my favourite time was when we won the British National League title by beating Guilford Flames in the Finals.

“We had a tremendous group of players that were even better people.

“To this day my philosophy in Oshawa is that great people make great teammates and great teammates make great teams.

“That is something I will never compromise in this organisation as you won’t win by taking short cuts.”

 

 

Hunt also shared some of the reasons why he chose to come to Britain in the first place and then to Dundee.

He said: “It was a complete fluke to be honest, I was at a hockey school with Jody Gage and he asked where I was playing next season.

“I had no real clue and he asked if I wanted to go play in England and I said sure.

“England turned out to be Scotland and I met my coach Leo Koopmans and the next week I was on a plane to Edinburgh where I met great people in the British game like Billie Dunbar and Richard Stirling.

“Immediately I knew I was somewhere special to be teammates with players such as Tony and Paul Hand.

“The list goes on but from Jock Hay, Paul Pentland, Moray Hanson, Marty MacKay, and imports such as Dave Shyiak, Tom Karalis and Kyle McDonough, it was an incredible year to which I will remember forever.

“Some of those guys I met in 1991, I still keep in touch with to this day and I wish I could keep in touch with them all.”

The Canadian stepped up to his first head coaching role in 2003 and from his time with the Stars, he took away a lot from his first experience of leading from the bench.

Roger said: “I took a lot of what I learned from Tony and put my own spin on things, the best part for me however was working for the Ward brothers.

“Meeting and spending time with their families, plus Mike, Stephen and Charlie were all fantastic to me.

“There was always a commitment to winning but they gave you a realistic chance to win.

“I think some teams have everything but we made the best of everything we had, they ran a professional outfit from dressing room to rink to how they treat their players.

“We never had the biggest budget but we were proud of who we were and they always gave me the resources to win.

“It’s one thing to want to win but it’s another to win.

“The other thing that I told some coaches who came after me and asked what it was like, I always commented that the Wards will have your back.

“I don’t think I may have been the best or most liked coach by the fans and it may have been easy to get rid of me, but they believed in me and stuck by me.”

Roger also led the team to their second BNL playoff title in 2005 and he shared some more on what it was like to lift that trophy, he commented: “It was an amazing feeling to win that championship against a few higher powered teams than us.

“To roll over Bracknell and Guilford was a credit to the players, they took on the personality of the city and weren’t going to be denied.

“Evan Lindsay was lights out and Cory Morgan was dynamite, Jason Shmyr was a great captain and who could forget John Dolan’s emergence, especially as shootout specialist.

“I hate to only mention those guys but that team had great people on it, remember, you don’t win if you don’t have that, haha.”

Finally, he shared a message to the Stars fans and he said: “I am thousands of miles away from Dundee and about 12 years removed but that doesn’t stop me from checking the EIHL site everyday and hoping the Wards can bring more championships back to the city.

“I am behind Omar, like I know the Wards are and lets hope in 2020-21 season the Generals and Stars can get more silverware in the cabinet.

“I know we will both be doing everything possible to make that happen.”

That concludes our series of ‘Look Back’ articles on the second Dundee Stars season but there is plenty more still to come, as next week we take you back to the 2003-2004 season.

If you want to be a part of the historic 20th Dundee Stars season then you can buy your season tickets by contacting [email protected]

Latest News
Dundee Stars Team
48 Games
18 Wins
27 Losses
3 OT Losses
39 Points