By Phillip Goodman
August 10, 2023
American Hockey League Hall of Famer Tim Tookey has been named Head Coach of the Reno Ice Raiders before the third season in Reno begins this October. Tookey takes the reins from Mike Harder who left Reno to head coach his alma mater Colgate Univ. after elevating the Ice Raiders to a 14-6-2 record in the '22-'23 campaign.
Between 1977 and 1995, Tookey appeared in 106 NHL games with the Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings, Quebec Nordiques, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Philadelphia Flyers in addtion to over 800 games in the AHL.
The bulk of his career spanning two decades was spent with the Hershey Bears of the AHL. In 2008, the Edmonton native was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame. The AHLHoF site said of Tookey, "[He retired] as the fourth-leading scorer in AHL history with 974 points, also ranking fourth in assists (621) and ninth in goals (353) over 824 games. And although he never won a Calder Cup, his AHL postseason numbers were exceptional as well, with 82 points in 78 playoff games. With 693 points in just 529 games, Tookey ranks second all-time in scoring for the venerable Hershey Bears franchise, which retired his number 9 in 1997."
Tookey intends to keep the momentum going from what Harder and the Ice Raiders already have in motion without making any drastic changes.
"Mike [Harder] has put some systems in play and after talking to Andrew and Jess Peterson about last season, they were very happy with how the team was playing," said Tookey. "I'm fortunate to have that. I'm just gonna tweak a couple things based on what I see in each game or what the other team is doing. I'm not gonna change how we're playing offense or defense. They're playing great. I'm just here to help things go as smoothly as I can and help us win some hockey games."
Tookey moved to Reno in September of 2022 at the urging of his daughter Trista, who also works for Reno Ice as an Outreach Coordinator. It didn't take too much convincing as Tim and his wife would regularly stop through Reno on the way to California to visit Trista in the years prior to Trista being a Reno resident.
"We fell in love with the town," Tim said of Reno. "The people seemed so friendly and welcoming and Trista said, 'I think you should move here too.' So we did."
Moving to Reno right before the Ice Raiders' season gave Tim the chance to attend a handful of games and witness himself the raucous Raiders' hockey experience.
"It's exciting to be involved," said Tim. "The Ice Raiders have got a great fan base which makes you nervous and excited. I want [Ice Raiders players] to have fun and continue to play great hockey and make it exciting for the fans to be here. I'm excited to be with them and hopefully win some games. We're going to have to play a little bit harder with the tough schedule ahead."
In addition to his duties as head coach, Tim serves as the Facilities Director at Reno Ice ensuring that the ice is in prime condition for all who skate there.
"We've got a great staff of Zamboni drivers and mechanics," Tim said. "If there's something I can't fix, the community steps up and helps too. We don't want to lose any time for figure skaters and players by having the ice down. The other day the Zam wouldn't recharge so we had a team of people to hand sweep and scrape then flood the ice with a hose."
Tim also coaches a 12U team and hopes to make the Ice Raiders players the heroes to his youth players.
"I'd really like our young kids to be able to look up to the Ice Raiders even more this year," he said. "There are plays I'm using with the 12U and I hope the Ice Raiders will use those plays too so I can show videos to the 12s that it works with the big guys. I want to make the Ice Raiders players as popular and loved with the little kids by example."
Tim has played and lived in some of the biggest hockey markets in North America and loves what he sees developing in the Reno market.
"One of the neatest things was like Field of Dreams - 'If you build it, they will come'," Tim said. "A bunch of people got together and built this rink. It surprised the people that did by how many people wanted to play or learn to figure skate. The people that put this dream in motion had their expectations blown away by the numbers of kids enrolling in hockey and figure skating and now full stands for every Ice Raiders game. We've already got a second sheet sold out if only we could build it. I think it's only going to continue to grow."
Some of Tim's other AHL accolades include:
Jack A. Butterfield Trophy winner 1985-1986: Awarded to the Most Valuable Player in the Calder Cup Playoffs as voted by the coaches.
Les Cunningham Award winner 1986-1987: Awarded to the league's most valuable player as voted on by AHL media and players.
John B. Sollenberger Trophy winner 1986-1987: Awarded to the player who has scored the most points in the regular season.
Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award winner 1992-1993: Awarded to the player best exemplifying sportsmanship, determination, and dedication to hockey.
The Ice Raiders' 2023-2024 schedule will be released on Sept. 15.