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Lord takes over Marlins boys' hockey team

Although games and practices are still more than two months away, the Mitchell Marlins boys' hockey team has something to talk about.

Former JV head coach and assistant varsity coach John Lord was hired as the head coach of the varsity team after former coach Ben Tronnes stepped down at the end of last season.

The 33-year-old Lord will take over a team that finished third in the state tournament and that lost the state's all-time leading scorer in Dustin Meyer.

"I still have very high expectations this year," Lord said. "We have a very talented team and some really good returning starters."

For two years, Lord acted as the junior varsity coach and assistant coach for the Marlins under Tronnes. He stepped down from those positions last year to coach the 4- to 7-year-old mighty mites, including his 6-year-old son, Nicholas.

When the head of programs committee learned Tronnes would be moving this year, the search began for a new head coach. President of Mitchell hockey Steve Rice explained the committee looked at the overall Mitchell hockey picture and tried to come up with the best possible solution for every age group.

"We looked at the coaching structure top to bottom and put together a search group," Rice said. "Lord had then expressed interest in coaching at the varsity level once he knew there would be an opening."

Lord explained once the committee learned of his interest, they stopped the search.

"Apparently, they liked the way I coached," Lord said.

A phone call from Dave Tronnes, the head of the programs committee, arrived in June, and explained the committee voted and Lord received the job.

Rice said finding a qualified varsity hockey coach in South Dakota isn't always easy, and sometimes there will be applicants who haven't played the game except at a recreational level.

This isn't the case with Lord. He played in Sioux Falls during high school and also was a member of a club team while attending the University of South Dakota.

"He did do a good job coaching when he was the assistant earlier," Rice said. "And the current players know who he is, too."

Ben Tronnes said he called Lord once he found out he got the job to congratulate him and tell him the hire didn't come much as a surprise.

"He has a group of great kids with good attitudes and loads of talent coming back," Tronnes said. "John's going to do a great job with them. I'm not worried about it at all."

Tronnes explained leaving Mitchell was a tough decision, but felt that if he didn't return to college now, it would be difficult to do it ever. He will be attending Northern State University as well as coaching hockey for the Aberdeen club team this year.

Lord will be taking over a team that finished 14-8-1 in the regular season last year and defeated the Huron All Stars 5-0 in the third-place game of the state tournament.

"I'm getting a team that is motivated to work," Lord said. "Ever since I've been involved with the varsity program, these kids just work through the tough times, and they're all always committed."

Besides coaching hockey, Lord is a state trooper in South Dakota and has two children, Nicholas and Maddison. His wife Kari works in Mitchell.

He will be assisted this season by Tronnes' younger brother, Chris.