When Mark Holick preaches the Prince George Cougars would be wise to listen.
The Cougars new bench boss spent two seasons with the Syracuse Crunch, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks, before arriving in Prince George last week so he knows what it takes to leap from the Western Hockey League to the professional ranks.
"You learn as a coach and you grow as a coach," said Holick. "It was a chance to coach professional athletes and that's the difference, they're doing their job and it's a tremendous experience I wouldn't trade it for the world.
"It's a fast league, the second best league in the world," he added. "Those guys move the puck quicker, their passes are better, they're stronger, you can tell them one thing and they can execute there isn't a whole lot of poking and prodding. They're men. They come to work and it's game on."
After three seasons with the WHL's Kootenay Ice where Holick had a 120-75-0-21 record and received CHL coach of the year honours in 2010, he made the move to the AHL with the Crunch. During his first season with the Crunch in 2010-11 Holick coached the team to a 35-38-3-4 record. He began the next season has head coach but switched to associate coach in January 2012 as the Crunch finished with a 25-29-12-10 record and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Anaheim moved it's farm club to Norfolk during the off season and, Holick said he chose to relocate to Penticton with his family when his 16-year-old son Cooper started playing for Summerland in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
After signing a deal with the Cougars that'll keep him in Prince George until the end of the 2015-16 season, Holick said he wants to help direct the junior guys to the pros.
"We want to make sure that they're prepared for it," said Holick. "Anything we can do to help them that'll be what we'll try to do."