For many professional hockey players, life after hockey brings a bit of a lifestyle change and a lot of unanswered questions about where to go and what to do. But for some, things fall perfectly into place and life lays a job at your feet that you could only have dreamt of.
Dream come true, eh?
It is if you’re former Mavericks player, Evan Vossen.
Vossen played two-plus seasons with the Mavericks as one of the players that bridged the gap between the old Central Hockey League and the ECHL. In that time, Evan accounted for 59 points, including 29 goals. Known as a solid two-way forward that was rarely caught out of position, Vossen was a solid contributor at both ends of the ice. Just over a quarter of the way into his third season with the Mavericks (first season in the ECHL), Vossen was traded to the Indy Fuel and was reunited with his old coach, Scott Hillman.
Following that season with Indy, Evan married the love of his life and Blue Springs, Missouri native, Rachel. The two moved to Oregon, where Rachel worked as a pharmacist while Evan helped out with a local hockey team. When the call came from his native Saskatchewan to return to his junior hockey team, the La Ronge Ice Wolves of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), as coach and general manager, Vossen couldn’t pass up the opportunity to come home.
Vossen had played three seasons for La Ronge and especially excelled in his last season as he put up 58 points in 58 games before heading to McGill University and then turning pro. Vossen inherited a team that was 4-16-0-3 when he took over in November 2016 but has high aspirations and a lot of familiarities as he faces the challenges of a first-time coach.
“It’s pretty nice. There’s a lot of familiar faces that I still recognize throughout the community,” Vossen said. “When you’re making a coaching change, it’s obviously a situation that’s not going as well as you’d like. I took on someone else’s team, so now that I have the whole summer to prepare and that’s pretty exciting. It’s something that I’ve been looking forward to and enjoyed so far.”
Evan is also quick to credit fairly regular conversations with current Mavericks coach, John-Scott Dickson, and former coach, Scott Hillman, as a huge help in his development as a coach as he learns how to shape and mold a roster entering his first full season.
Of his time with the Mavericks, one particular memory that Vossen remembers fondly was a home opener in front of the Orange Army.
“Just the anticipation of the home opener and how into it the fans were; I think Courts (Andrew Courtney) had a hat trick that night. It was a fond memory for myself, something that shows how great the Orange Army faithful were each time you came out of the tunnel and hit the ice.”
Vossen was part of the transition from the defunct Central Hockey League to the ECHL for the Mavericks. Longtime fans will remember the uncertainty of that summer as the possibility of the merger/absorption loomed as the season approached. The lack of preseason preparation and games particularly impacted the CHL teams as they prepared to play an ECHL level schedule on short notice.
“I didn’t think that the Central and East Coast leagues were that far apart, just that the East Coast league had some younger guys coming out of college or juniors that had some NHL teams that were interested and trying to develop them,” Vossen commented. “Playing in the Central league, I also felt like some of the guys were a little bit older, but it was a smarter, more mental side of the game. Guys didn’t make mistakes because they were flying all over the ice. Guys knew where everybody was and the passing and the game itself was a lot more structured. It was a bit of adjustment to try and find a medium ground between the two when we first stepped in.”
Vossen’s future plans include staying in coaching as long as possible and making a career out of it.
“In one way or another, hockey has always been a part of my life; even since I was first born with my dad being involved in the game as long as I can remember. I’ll be involved in coaching at a competitive level or helping out, but definitely staying in the game.”
Coming home has definitely been a welcome transition for Vossen as he has moved from playing into coaching. However, he will always have a home and a place where he belongs in front of the Orange Army at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.