Saskatoon, SK - The Saskatchewan Rush have hired former National Lacrosse League champion Evan Kirk as the club’s goalie coach.
Kirk, from Orangeville, Ontario, won a title in Saskatchewan back in 2018 where he posted a 15-4 record throughout the regular season and playoffs.
Now, it's an opportunity to give back to his favourite stop on his NLL journey.
"It feels like home to be quite honest. As soon as I got into Sask, I had a warm welcome and we had great success there. They feel like family to me, and it was just an easy decision for me to be involved with Saskatchewan.," said Kirk. "I've always wanted to stay involved. Now I think the game's changing, and most teams have a goalie coach so I thought that would kind of be my forte."
The 36-year-old spent 10 seasons in the national league, including three in Saskatchewan until COVID ended the 2020 season.
"I think the coolest thing I remember is being with Jeremy Thompson, we were in the mall and so many people knew Jeremy and I think there's just that actual feeling of being a professional athlete in the community. It's just such a warm welcome you know, everybody in the community is a part of it. They’re all great and you’re actually being treated like a professional athlete compared to some other places."
Now, he'll have an opportunity to coach his former rival on the floor in Frank Scigliano.
"I mean, it's unique cause I always competed against Frankie. I think we had a little bit of choice words with one another over the years, but it's a team thing now and we're on the same side." joked Kirk. “He’s big, skilled and has good energy so I think he’ll be great here.”
But what most excites him, having a future in goal with two young guns like Laine Hruska and Thomas Kiazyk.
"It’s such an anomaly for Laine, being a professional where you grew up. So, hats off to him for getting to where he is, but he’s dialed in and really competing for that starting spot right now and looks really good," Kirk explained. " We were confident that Thomas is going to turn out to be the goalie that we want, but right off the bat he’s such a great kid, very personable, hardworking, soaks everything up like a sponge and also brings a lot of athleticism and skill on the floor. You look at his stats in juniors and even myself and others weren’t even close to that and we had smaller nets. So to have his numbers and still be junior eligible for two years we know he’s going to be a competitor and we’re happy with him so far."
During a career where he played 158 games, the former sixth overall pick was a member of the 2012 NLL all-rookie team, an All-Pro first team and the NLL’s goaltender of the year in 2016.
Now the goal becomes developing the next championship goaltender, so who better than the last one to take finish the job.