Thunder Coach Cail MacLean

Adirondack Thunder head coach Cail MacLean instructs his players during a practice at the then-named Civic Center in Glens Falls.

Post-Star File photo

Cail MacLean, the charismatic coach who built the Adirondack Thunder’s hockey program from scratch, is staying within the Calgary organization. The Stockton (Calif.) Heat announced Thursday the now-former Thunder head coach is joining its staff as an assistant coach.

“It’s a great opportunity with a great organization I’ve been working with and formed relationships with,” MacLean said. “When you can work with good people, that’s an excellent place to be.”

For MacLean, this move was as much about staying with an organization that has treated him well as about moving into the AHL. He will now have worked for the Calgary organization in three capacities, including twice as AHL assistant coach.

As ECHL coach, he has been involved in development and rookie camps as well as in conversations about players’ development. He’ll also be reunited with players he’s been coaching in Glens Falls, like goalie Mason McDonald, forwards Brett Pollock and Ryan Lomberg, defenseman Keegan Kanzig and more.

MacLean and Heat head coach Ryan Huska will also have Glens Falls in common. Huska coached the Adirondack Flames during the team’s one season in Glens Falls.

“I would not want to leave the Adirondack Thunder for anything other than a great opportunity,” MacLean said. “It’s bittersweet to move on from someplace that myself and my family enjoyed living in.”

As he did over his two-year tenure, MacLean praised the passion of the Thunder fans, calling Glens Falls a great home for pro hockey.

“It was a really quality place to raise a family for my daughter, her school, the nature of the place, the pace of the area,” he said. “In this business, as a coach, you make a lot of stops. This is one of those stops that you realize is a good spot and you want to enjoy it while you’re there.”

MacLean coached the Thunder for the team’s first two years. He had to build a team from just about nothing and made it successful, bringing it to the playoffs both seasons (the first Adirondack hockey team to make the playoffs in a decade).

“Cail’s contributions to the Thunder organization expanded past the walls of the building he coached in, as he involved himself in community events and instilled a community-first culture in his team,” read a thank you note the Thunder tweeted out. “Cail always took time to talk with fans at team functions and was a terrific ambassador of the Adirondack Thunder brand in our local community.”

The team did not comment on hiring a new coach. They were already expected to reveal a new affiliation soon and now will have a new coach to announce as well.

Follow Diana C. Nearhos on Twitter @dianacnearhos.

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Diana C. Nearhos is the ECHL beat writer and general sportswriter at The Post-Star. Her Adirondack Thunder content can be found at poststar.com/thunder.

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