The Dubuque Fighting Saints have announcd the hiring of Oliver David as the team’s head coach. David, 38, makes his return to the Fighting Saints organization after a one-year stint as an assistant coach for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.
“My passion for Dubuque Fighting Saints hockey is ringing in my ears as loudly as our great fans banging their cowbells,” David said. “To be back with our club, and to have the opportunity to build on the sturdy foundation laid by our excellent coaches of the past, is an ‘am I dreaming?’ moment. It needs not to be said, but I’m ecstatic to be back in Dubuque.”
In his most recent venture in Portland, the Winterhawks finished with a 40-28-4 record, 4th in the U.S. Division, and made it to the Western Conference Semifinal round.
“We are very pleased to have Oliver returning to Dubuque as our head coach. Given his time here, the transition will be virtually seamless,” said Brad Kwong, the Managing Partner of Northern Lights Hockey, LLC. “But that is not the reason we selected Oliver. We selected him for his elite coaching abilities—his ability to see the game, to communicate and motivate his players and staff, and equally important, his demeanor and outstanding character.” “We’re all very excited to have ‘Ollie,’ Denee and their family back in Dubuque as part of the Fighting Saints family again.”
David, a California native, has firsthand experience with the Fighting Saints. He served as an assistant coach for the Saints for two seasons under Matt Shaw, and then was promoted to associate head coach and assistant general manager under Jason Lammers for the 2015–16 season. The Saints accumulated a record of 108-61-11 (.639) over the course of those three seasons.
As a member of the Fighting Saints’ coaching staff, Oliver David helped lead the team to the second round of the playoffs in his debut season, to the Eastern Conference Final in year two, and a berth in the 2016 Clark Cup Final in year three, the organization’s third trip to that round of the playoffs in seven seasons since the organization’s return to the USHL.
“[Oliver] was almost ready the last time we went through this process,” Kwong added. “Now, with two more years under his belt and an excellent experience in Portland under the tutelage of ex-NHL coach Mike Johnston, he returns to us as ready as ever to take on the challenge of keeping the Fighting Saints at the top of the ever-more competitive USHL.”
“Oliver and I have known each other for a long time, and I am thrilled about the opportunity to work with him again,” said Kalle Larsson, the General Manager of the Fighting Saints. “He has worked hard for a long time, and has truly earned the opportunity to be a head coach in the USHL.” “His personality and hockey knowledge will be a great fit for our organization, and the fact that he has already spent three years in Dubuque will make for a smooth transition.”
Prior to joining the Fighting Saints staff, David was the head coach, alternate governor and director of hockey operations for the Kenai River Brown Bears of the North American Hockey League for four seasons (2009–13) with a record of 87-74-17 (.540). The Brown Bears became a playoff contender immediately under his direction, as he led the team to the Robertson Cup playoffs in all four seasons. He is the organization’s all-time leader in wins.
David is in rare company, as he is one of very few American coaches to have coached in three top junior leagues—the USHL, NAHL and WHL.
David won a USA Hockey National Championship as an assistant coach of the California Wave in 2006, and teams under his direction won district and state titles during the span of 2005 to 2009. David continues to be an advocate for hockey in the Pacific District, an area of the United States that continues to produce high-quality players who played for the Fighting Saints such as returning forward Cole Guttman, and alumni Dylan Gambrell, Robby Jackson and Jacob Hamacher. He has been a coach at USA Hockey’s National Select Festivals, and an evaluator for the Pacific District. Oliver David played professionally in Germany with EC Pfaffenhofen of the Bayernliga for one season (2002–03).
David, along with his wife, Denee, and two kids, Oden and Denver, will be relocating to Dubuque.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 15th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2016-17. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in four consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.