CARROT RIVER — As the team’s goaltender for parts of seven seasons, Carrot River’s Kolton Holmen had a unique view of his hometown Junior B hockey squad.
After wrapping up his long and successful Prairie Junior Hockey League career last season, Holmen will now bring his insight to the Carrot River Outback Thunder in a new way. Ahead of the 2019-20 PJHL campaign, the team has announced the 22-year-old will serve as an associate coach to Luke Folk, who took over the Outback Thunder with general manager Brennan Hall partway through last season.
“I think as goalies we do see the game a bit different because we’ve grown up being able to see the whole ice because everything happens in front of you,” Holmen said. “But since we’ve gained Luke Folk as our coach last year, him and I both see the game the same and we’ve talked about the style we both like to be played so I’m excited to get going.”
Hall said the hard work, dedication, perseverance and leadership Holmen displayed as a player will serve him well as a coach.
“The Thunder have had a lot of great hockey players and strong groups in prior years, and Kolton has had a lot to do with that,” Hall stated on Facebook. “We believe his knowledge and experience within the PJHL is invaluable, along with his understanding of the game itself makes him the perfect fit to be the associate coach of the Thunder. We want to thank Kolton for his dedication to the team over the past several years, and for continuing that further in a coaching position.”
Nathan Trites helped Folk out for part of last season in a temporary assistant coach role. Tentatively, he is slated to return to the Outback Thunder as an equipment manager.
Holmen said that he has always been interested in coaching – no matter what the sport. Over the years he has helped coach some minor hockey teams his younger brothers have played on.
“I’m just excited that I get to come back to the same team I got to spend my whole junior career with, but now be able to contribute in a different way,” Holmen said.
He will be coaching some players who were playing in front of him on the ice just a season ago.
“It will be a little bit different but being that we had such a young team last year it shouldn’t be too hard of a transition because Luke Folk kind of gave me the leadership and guidance role being that I was the oldest guy on the team last year,” Holmen said.
The son of Dean and Trisha Hardie and Kris and Bridget Holmen first started playing for the then named Tri-Town Thunder as an affiliated player in his 15-year-old season. Two seasons later he joined the team full-time. Over the years, Holmen racked up many awards and accolades. Last season he was the team’s Most Valuable Player, Top Goalie, and Fan Favourite. Holmen shared the Outback Thunder’s award for community involvement. At the team’s awards night, he was recognized for last year breaking his own records for saves made (1,182) and shots faced (1,344) in a regular season.
The Outback Thunder are slated to open their first full regular season under the leadership of Folk and Hall on Sept. 28 on the road in Delisle. Hall said the staff is excited about bringing a new dynamic and attitude to Carrot River.
“We will have a very young team this upcoming season, but we are changing our program to mimic Junior A and focus on development rather than being seen as a jungle league or glorified beer league,” he said.
To help players settle into Carrot River and the area, the team is seeking jobs and billet families. Hall said that casual, part-time, or even full-time opportunities for players are welcome.
“We are still in need of any families or persons who would take a Thunder player into their home,” Hall said. “They will quickly become a part of your family. They will help you out with anything you need like they are your own kids, and the team will pay monthly fees to these families to help support our players living there.”