On the heels of Dave Shyiak’s firing, I sat down with junior goaltender Rob Gunderson to gain a player’s perspective on the situation.
What was your relationship like with coach Shyiak?
We had a great relationship. I respected that guy to the fullest. He’s a great person, a good coach and he gave me an opportunity to come to Alaska and play the best hockey I could play. Our relationship was awesome, and I’ll never forget about him.
So you appreciated his coaching style?
Yeah, I did. You know all coaches have different coaching styles — it’s the players that have to adapt to it.
He was a good player coach. It was great to have him around. He was good with us, he treated us like men and he expected a lot out of us. It was a little intimidating, ‘cause you know what he expected. (Laughs.)
How do you feel now that he’s gone?
Well, the confusion is tough. The whole business is hockey, and in the hockey world it’s all wins and losses. You look anywhere, if a team has a losing season, there are always changes made. The sport of it, it happens all the time, but he was a good coach, and his shoes are going to be hard to fill.
How long did you play for him?
Three years. I’ve played for him since my freshman year. He recruited me from Alberta, Canada, so I’m a little ways from home.
Since you’re about to be a senior and it’s your last year, do you think there will be any difficulties adjusting to the coaching change?
It’s going to be an improvement because everyone is going to come in like it’s a fresh start. I don’t know what to expect. I just know I have to work hard, I have to earn my position to play and I have to earn my role. I hope everyone sees it like that.
Do you think your teammates that are returning will adjust well?
We’re excited. We’re the players, so in the end, we want to play hockey and we want to win and do well. It’s not my decision what happens, but I respect my coach and I love my coach. It’s going to be a change for everyone because now they have to work and earn their role. It’s going to be interesting and I hope everyone is excited because we can’t do anything about (the firing) now.