After enduring several seasons that didn’t measure up to their standards, the Minnesota Magicians are looking for a different outcome for 2018-19. They’ve hired a new head coach and general manager, and they have solidified their ownership group.
“We want to create an overall better experience for our players, fans, and staff 2018-19 season,” said co-owner Ron Beran.
“On top of that, we want to put a competitive team on the ice to compete for a Robertson Cup. The Minnesota Magicians’ mission is to develop our athletes into quality young men. Our goal is to provide an organized platform through professional instruction to help leverage one’s career at the collegiate level. Our management and coaching staff are held to the highest standard of accountability to help guide our athletes to succeed. We offer a positive environment both on and off the ice ensuring our athletes have the best junior hockey experience possible.”
The ownership group is made up of Beran, Scott Krueger, Joe Pankratz, and A.J. Bucchino. It’s a strong combination that brings together a collection of backgrounds that includes Division I playing histories, extensive coaching experience, junior-level ownership, and general hockey management.
Interim head coach Ben Weiand, who has been the bench boss since early December, will finish the current season. But next year Bucchino will take over those duties as well as those of the club’s general manager. He believes it’s his duty “to create a culture where players want to be” as well as to establish a positive environment for players, staff, players, opponents, and fans. Bucchino is confident that he has management’s support to build the “strong identity” that he wants to develop.
“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with motivated athletes at the junior level,” Bucchino says. “I will hold myself to a high standard of accountability to represent the Magicians well. My goal is to surround my staff with players who love the game and want to be here. I am excited to help guide them to grow as hockey players and more importantly, young men.”
Bucchino is coming from Lakeville South High School in Lakeville, Minn., where he was head coach for the past three seasons, compiling a 48-34-4 record. He took the Cougars to the Minnesota State High School Tournament last year.
Before coaching, the White Plains, N.Y., native played four seasons of pro hockey, with stops in the ECHL, Central Hockey League, and Southern Professional Hockey League. Bucchino was a two-time NCAA All-American at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and played junior hockey in the United States Hockey League with the Des Moines Buccaneers.
The Magicians also have on staff Kevin Ingvalson, who run their game operations and bring in new promotional partners. In addition, they have hired Gaven Bickford to be director of marketing and communications. Bickford will also have a support role with the coaching staff, team operations, and recruiting.
The fact that the Magicians haven’t had a losing season since 2015-16 but are still unsatisfied with results of the last two years is indicative of the organization’s deep commitment to excellence.
“We are dedicated to creating ladder of development within our programming,” says Beran. “All four owners are now involved in the business and are dedicated to transparent in all aspects of the business.
“We also have people working with us who have the same dedication. We are excited to make the Twins Cities in Minnesota a great place for junior players to want to play. We want to make the Minnesota Magicians a premier franchise in the NAHL.”
(PHOTO FROM MAGICIANS)