New Packer coach is looking to teach the game of hockey

Published 7:38 pm Sunday, July 15, 2012

Erik LaRock is the new Austin boys hockey head coach. -- Rocky Hulne/

Erik LaRock knows all too well what it’s like to be on the sidelines during a hockey game.

LaRock, who is Austin’s new varsity boys hockey head coach, tore his ACL in his sophomore season with the St. Mary’s University men’s hockey team. Despite a year of rehabbing his junior year, he was never able to get back on the ice.

“I tried to come back my junior year and just didn’t have it,” La Rock said. “I ended up golfing and student teaching my senior year.”

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That teaching stint ended up being a blessing for LaRock as it also got him into coaching. He coached youth hockey in Dodge County and coached in the Austin Pee Wee system for the last two years before landing the AHS head coaching job this year.

“I think teaching has really helped me with coaching,” LaRock said. “My teaching philosophy is the same as coaching. I’m just trying to get the best out of the athletes and that will really help with my coaching.”

LaRock said he would like his team spend a lot of time in the offseason on working in a strength program. When the season comes around, he would like his team to play “creative and disciplined.”

“I want the kids to be creative on the offensive end and be really aggressive, but at the same point they need to be very disciplined and play two-way hockey on the defensive end,” LaRock said.

Before he got to St. Mary’s, La Rock grew up playing in the Rochester Youth Hockey Association, Dodge County and he moved to Kansas City to play with Russell Stover for four months before playing in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League for the Twin Cities Northern Lights.

“I had some really great coaches who were great mentors,” LaRock said. “They showed me that being a hockey player is more than just playing. The strength program is a big part of it too.”

LaRock replaces Tim Peterson at the helm. The Packers went 17-80-1 overall in four years under Peterson.