Rod Aldoff hasn’t been back to his southern Alberta home in a few years, but it’s still home.
Aldoff is the head coach and general manager of the Minnesota Wilderness, who lost their opening game of the RBC Cup on Saturday. Aldoff was born and raised in Coaldale, leaving to attend Notre Dame hockey school in Saskatchewan before high school. Still, he played his hockey around here and his dad, Dick, still lives here.
“My family’s still there, for sure, my dad, I have some other family there, too,” said Aldoff from his hotel in Summerside, PEI, where the RBC Cup — Canada’s Junior A national championship tournament is being held. Aldoff’s Wilderness team is the first U.S. team to represent the Central Region in the tournament. The team plays in the Superior International Junior Hockey League and won the Dudley Hewitt Cup which earned the berth in the national tournament.
“It’s a real honour, one we worked hard to achieve and one I’m pretty proud of,” said Aldoff.
He’s not the only Lethbridge coach in the tournament, since the AJHL champion Brooks Bandits are coached by Ryan Papaioannou. They won 7-1 in their tournament opener agains the Truro Bearcats. The host Summerside Capitals won 5-1 over Minnesota.
Aldoff went from Notre Dame to the junior A ranks with the Melfort Mustangs before attending and playing hockey at the university of Minnesota-Duluth. That time is one of the factors which keeps him from visiting his hometown as often as he might like. Aldoff met his wife there and after she followed him through his professional career and a stint with the Wisconsin Wilderness, he moved her home to Minnesota.
“I met my wife, she’s from Minnesota and the opportunity is here,” said Aldoff. “After playing pro hockey, I’ve had a great opportunity to coach and it’s something I love to do and I’ve found some success.”
Aldoff has coached Canada at the World Junior A Challenge, a series pitting the best from Canada’s Junior A ranks against teams from Europe, the U.S. and a pair of Canadian teams selected from Junior A leagues.
He has family, sister, in Vancouver and that also keeps his trips to southern Alberta a little less frequent.
Aldoff said his wife loves going to Vancouver so family gatherings there often make up his time with extended family. But, he said, if things settle down, a trip home is likely.
“I’d love to get out there after this, maybe I’ll find some time to visit.”
In the meantime, he has a tournament to prepare for. After that, the offseason recruiting takes priority. Then it’s scheduling, budgeting, planning another year . . .
“There really is no offseason,” said Aldoff.
“You can’t just finish the season and relax. There’s always something else to do but you know what, it’s great here. I have a great organization and we’ve had success and you can’t ask for much more.”