Rod Aldoff has been a lot of places as a hockey player and now as a coach he hopes he can do the same.
The former Melfort Mustang defenceman has plenty of stamps on his passport after playing for 18 teams in 15 years and now after a very successful three-year stint in northern Minnesota to begin his coaching career, he is back at the professional level coaching the Pensacola Ice Flyers in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
“It’s going very good here,” said Aldoff recently. “We have a good team here. I played pro for a lot of years and I always felt it would be great to get back to the pro level again.”
Aldoff has certainly paid his dues both as a player and as a coach.
Following a two-year stop in Melfort from 1989-91, the Lethbridge, Alta., product went to the University of Minnesota-Duluth for four years where he scored 20 goals and set up 62 others in 136 games.
That would be the last time Aldoff would be settled in one place for any period of time as his professional career began in Tallahassee of the East Coast Hockey League and ended with the Rapid City Rush of the Central Hockey League with stops in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, San Diego, Long Beach, Kalamazoo and Fort Wayne, among many others, sandwiched in between.
Aldoff even played 16 games of roller hockey with the Virginia Vultures in 1998.
The 42-year-old Aldoff called it a career in 2010 and decided to work on the other side of the bench and so far the early returns are very impressive.
In three years with the Wilderness franchise, first located in Wisconsin and then moved to Minnesota after the owner sold the arena, Aldoff won three straight Superior International Junior Hockey League titles compiling a remarkable 145-15-8 record.
Aldoff was a Canadian Junior Hockey League finalist for coach of the year last year and his Wilderness team lost in overtime in a semifinal match to the Brooks Bandits, the eventual RBC Cup champions in 2013.
All of that success in the northern United States got noticed in the deep south as Aldoff returned to the professional ranks this summer where he inherited the defending SPHL champions.
“It’s very exciting,” says Aldoff, who watched the championship banner raised on his first night behind the bench. “I can’t wait to get our season started and get a new chapter started.”
Aldoff, who currently has the Ice Flyers in second place with a 3-2-0 record, says he isn’t sure where he would be right now if he wouldn’t have gone to Melfort a quarter century ago.
“I always say that some of my greatest years have been in Saskatchewan in the SJHL,” says Aldoff. “We grew up together. It was a great experience for me and a great stepping stone, not just as a player, but as a person.”
“The Mustangs gave me an opportunity to keep going forward with the scholarship opportunity,” added Aldoff. “If I had to do it over I’d do it exactly the same as I did. Melfort was nothing but a great experience.”
Where the road takes him from here is still to be determined, but it did start in the SJHL. Aldoff is a great example of what the league can provide a player – great hockey, life lessons, education opportunities and a life in hockey both as a player and a coach.