By day he’s the mayor of Ear Falls.
By night, however, Kevin Kahoot has a secret identity – or at least he did until Tuesday night, when he was at long last unveiled as the fourth head coach in Thunder Bay North Stars history.
Kahoot, who owns and operates Kahooters Kabins and RV Park with his wife Giselle, officially took the reins of the Stars and stepped behind the bench for the first time, leading Thunder Bay to a convincing, if somewhat chippy, 8-2 win over the Sioux Lookout Flyers.
It was owner Doug Gunsinger’s idea to keep Kahoot’s signing under wraps, though the team did slip and list him as coach on the game sheet of their opening-day win Friday over the host Minnesota Iron Rangers.
Kahoot, who brings to Thunder Bay a long list of coaching experience, at the high school level in Red Lake, Ont. and Iowa, as well as a three-year stint as an associate coach with the United States Hockey League’s Des Moines Buccaneers in the late 1980s, said he simply played along with the ruse.
“That’s kind of the way Doug likes to run his show here,” said Kahoot, whose son Kolton is now playing for the North Stars, after working a deal with the junior team in Minnesota he had been playing with until this season.
“He’s all smoke and mirrors here a little bit, but it was fun. We kind of knew way back in late August what was happening, so we just kind of let him play with it a little bit and it seemed to work out. The kids knew I was going to be in town coaching.”
Kahoot said he hasn’t missed a practice, choosing to watch training camp from the stands to do gauge what the Stars had to work with in 2012-13, under new ownership and a much younger squad than the one shared by coaches Todd Howarth and Lonny Bohonos a year ago.
“We had a game plan right from the start. I stayed off the ice to do more of an evaluation of what type of team and the skill level we would have going into the year,” he said, aided by assistant coaches Doug Colbon and Bob Fogolin.
“We think the kids are starting to round into form already.”
Kahoot said he’s only been able to take on the job thanks to his wife running the family business and fellow councillors back home picking up the slack. The rest of his mayoral duties can be conducted via email and cell phone, though he does get back to Ear Falls every week or so during the hockey season.
Veteran Matt Kaarela, who scored a pair in Tuesday’s Fort William Gardens opener, said every coach is different and has their own style. So far, so good with Kahoot, he said.
“We’re all kind of buying into it. That’s why we’re playing pretty good. So that’s just what it takes,” said Kaarela, who has five goals and two assists in the North Stars three straight wins, tying him atop the Superior International Junior Hockey League scoring parade.
“We all kind of got right on board and put our noses down and just went for it.”
Mason Prout, with a pair, Jordan Davidson, Trevor Hynnes, Mathias Gardiman and Marshall Fox also scored for Thunder Bay (3-0-0).
The winless Flyers, who trailed 4-0 after 40 minutes, finally managed to beat Jayme Brattengeier midway through the final stanza, Matthew Schwehr and Kyler Ackewance scoring seven seconds apart to make it 6-2 at the time.
Eric Messer allowed all eight goals for the Flyers, who have surrendered 23 goals in three straight losses to start the campaign.
The game was marred by a scrappy second period that saw five players ejected and two seven-minute power plays, one on each side, awarded.
The two teams will do it all again on Wednesday night.
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