Kurtis Jones has signed a contract to remain head coach and general manager of the Cochrane Generals for at least one more season.
Jones signed a one-year contract with a one-year option with Cochrane's junior B club on May 11.
"We knew he was getting lots of interest around the country and outside of the country, and we wanted to lock him in," says Gens president Rick Richards. "We're very excited and we've built a solid foundation under Kurtis that we want to continue, knowing that an opportunity will come his way that he can't pass up at some point."
Jones confirmed he has been inundated with coaching opportunities, but he believes he owes one more season to the club and its players, especially the over-agers.
There are seven 21-year-olds returning and the club can only keep four.
"In the end, I thought it was the right move out of respect for them, since I recruited these players, and they all asked me to come back. I do respect the players and their decisions to come on board with us."
Jones has been the head coach for three seasons but in that time there was only one complete season due to the pandemic.
This past season, the Gens were a finalist in the Heritage Junior Hockey League championship, losing to the Okotoks Bisons three straight. They got some redemption at the provincials when Okotoks finished third and the Gens won silver.
In the 2019-20 season, the club was in HJHL south finals when the plug was pulled on hockey across the nation. The 2020-21 season was a write-off.
Jones wants another shot at the HJHL championship but says it hinges on how successful they are in new player recruitment.
"We are losing a lot of key elements in our team that we have to fill," he says. "It's going to be tough to fill but we're in the process of filling those spots and hope to be as good a team or better next season."
Assistant coach Erik Krigel is also returning and together with Jones has been connecting with prospects. They attended a camp last week, and several more will follow.
"We've talked to about a dozen players to see where they're at. No commitment yet, just trying to get them into camp and see where they fit into our group."
The fall camp opens with two days of goalie evaluation on Aug. 31 followed by the main camp.
"A lot of guys are coming back and they'll have to compete for their spots. With recruits coming in, everybody's got to go. There are no guaranteed spots on our team; you have to earn them."
The team is also starting a weekly Wednesday skate on June 15.
Choosing the four 21-year-olds remaining with the team will be based on how they fit in with the rest of the team.
"It's hard for the coaching staff to make a decision because we have to see what fits in our groups and where we need our guys," says Jones. "That's the hardest part. You want to keep all of them because they deserve to be there, but we can only keep four, and that's the rule."
While Krigel has remained on the team staff, they have some big shoes to fill. Goalie coach Matt Greenham and assistant general manager Paddy McLure have both stepped back due to other commitments.
Sponsorship is key to any junior hockey organization, and the team is reaching out to the community in preparation for the season ahead.
Those interested in helping to build upon the success of the team can contact Jones at