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No one was more shocked by the sudden dismissal of head coach and general manager Adam Manah from the Sherwood Park Crusaders than Manah himself.

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After six years with the organization, Manah was called to the mat on Friday morning and received his marching papers the same day he was preparing his team to face the Drumheller Dragons at the Arena.

In the last real pre-COVID season of action in the 2019-20 Alberta Junior Hockey League, Manah (then GM Kyle Chase, who was equally shockingly eliminated in March) led the Crusaders at their best campaign in 45 years of history. organization, with a 49-9-0 record and becoming the top-ranked Junior A team in all of Canada before the pandemic wipes out the playoffs and a shot at the franchise’s first AJHL title and may – even be a national crown.

Manah added the role of general manager to his coaching duties when Chase was fired and was tasked with rebuilding a crusader squad that had lost most of its key components from scratch. It turned out he had very little leash to do so, however, as a 9-15-1 start and a losing four-game skid was enough to get him tacked to the curb after just 25 games this season. , even though growing pains had occurred. what one would expect with such a complete overhaul of the players and a roster loaded with rookies.

“It was a shock for sure,” Manah said. “I had just taken over this summer and we were trying to retool and rebuild the team as we wanted for the future, which is to rejuvenate and build for the next two years. It definitely took me by surprise. But the organization will do what it thinks is best.

“Everyone in the league knew we were the youngest team and what our vision was and what we were trying to build. We had a tough time, but we felt the group was positive and kept on working hard. We have brought in a very good team in terms of skills, talent and character, and not being able to see this group grow over the next couple of years is going to be difficult.

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“It was a surprise to me and I’m still letting it all flow. It’s difficult. I loved being at Sherwood Park and didn’t want it to end, but it’s hockey, it’s business.

After coaching Midget AAA hockey in Grande Prairie and spending time with the AJHL Storm in GP, ​​Manah joined Cru as an assistant coach in 2015, becoming the head coach of the Next year.

Despite Friday’s dismissal, Manah took to the highways when questioned by The news the next day.

“They gave me my debut in AJHL and junior hockey and I cannot thank them enough for everything they have done for me over the past six years and everything the organization has allowed me to do. to do to become a better person and a better coach and to be able to take a new step in the world of hockey and in life. I owe a lot to the Crusaders at Sherwood Park and cannot say enough good things about it.

“It’s tough because I’ve really put everything into it over the past six years and we’ve accomplished a lot of really good things here during my tenure. I am proud of all that we have been able to do and hope that they will continue to be successful in the future. ”

Jeff Woywitka, who was Manah’s right-hand man for half a decade, succeeds Manah as head coach.

“We have been the tightest pair in the league, have had the longest relationship as a coach and assistant coach in the past six years now,” he noted. “We were very close at work and as friends and I wish him (athletic therapist Josh Armstrong) and the rest of the organization the best. I want to thank all the staff and owners for giving me the opportunity. They should be in place to be successful.

Manah will now be looking for a new hockey home.

“I hope the CV speaks for itself,” he said. “Hopefully a new opportunity presents itself and we’ll see where it takes me, I guess. Things happen for a reason. If this is what was supposed to be, then this is what it is.”

sjones@postmedia.com

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