The Okanagan Rockets are in the market for a new head coach.
The B.C. Major Midget League champs are looking for a replacement Mack O’Rourke, who stepped down this week to pursue a job opportunity outside of the hockey business.
In his first season behind the bench, O’Rourke helped lead the Rockets to a 32-5-3 regular season record, followed by a final series win over Vancouver Northwest Giants, as Okanagan won its second B.C. championship.
The Rockets later won the Pacific regional final in Red Deer, before capturing a bronze medal at the Telus Cup national midget hockey championship in Moose Jaw.
O’Rourke, who has taken on a job in the drilling industry with Calgary-based Canadian Energy Services, regrets having to leave the hockey world but is excited about his new position.
“As much as I love hockey and what we were doing here, I couldn’t pass on this opportunity,” said O’Rourke. “It was a no-brainer, a very good position for me so, for now, hockey is going on the back burner. It’s time for me to get on with life, so to speak.”
While disappointed in losing O’Rourke, the Rockets general manager David Michaud was thrilled for his former coach.
“It wasn’t a call I was hoping to get,” said Michaud. “Mack and I had every intention of continuing together to keep our success rolling, however when Mack was presented with this opportunity, it was a bit of a no-brainer for a young man who is getting his professional life going.
“We wish Mack nothing but success and there is no doubt he will do a great job in his new position.”
O’Rourke has made it clear he hasn’t closed the door on hockey and, at the very least, can see himself back in the game in the future to coach his own kids.
All in all, O’Rourke is grateful for the experiences hockey has given him.
“The people I’ve met and the opportunities I was given, I’ll always be thankful for that,” he said. “To have the season (the Rockets) we had was amazing and I’ll never forget that. The rink is only three minutes from my house, so I’ll still stay in touch, I’ll always have my phone if they need anything. Once a Rocket, always a Rocket.”
A busy and eventful year for O’Rourke will continue in July when he gets married.
He will continue to live in Kelowna, but will travel to Alberta for the majority of his employment.