Robert Starke has informed the CBR Brave that he will not be returning as head coach after a successful 3-year stint in the Capital.
The man who helped guide the CBR Brave to their first ever Goodall Cup Championship, and their longest serving head coach, has moved back to his native Canada with his family, but not without a heavy heart.
"After living in Australia for 15 years, moving to Kelowna, BC will provide our family with an exciting opportunity to experience living in Canada. I’ve enjoyed the ride and it’s with mixed emotions and a heavy heart that I won’t be returning to coach the CBR Brave, but we're looking forward to the adventure."
Under Starke’s guidance, the Brave enjoyed tremendous success over the past three seasons, with a regular season record of 63W-16L-3OTW-2OTL (79% win percentage), winning the H Newman Reid Trophy (League Premiers) in 2018 and 2019 and the Goodall Cup (League Champions) and ACT Team of the Year in 2018.
His teams, whilst boasting some impressive high end import talent, were made by a foundation of solid local players, something Starke is proud to have been a part of.
"There are a number of junior players in Canberra who have the potential to be impact players in the AIHL in the coming years and hopefully they’ll put in the hard yards and trust the process," Starke said.
"In my view, it’s not good enough to simply turn up to pre season in February or March. All our players, especially our young guys, need to take full advantage of the available resources and continue to increase their fitness levels, get stronger and faster and improve their hockey IQ during the off season.”
Prior to coaching, Starke was no stranger to Brave history as he played 12 seasons and was a four-time Goodall Cup Champion with the Newcastle Northstars. Only when he made the move to the capital, did Starke realise just what makes the Brave Cave a special place.
“During my playing days with the Northstars, I experienced the Brave Cave as a visitor for many years and it was certainly not an easy place to play but being on the home side is surprisingly special," Starke said.
"I witnessed all the passion, time and hard work that goes in to making the rink come alive on game day.”
It wasn’t an easy decision for Rob and his family to leave Canberra, with the Starke family becoming a much-loved part of the tight knit hockey community.
“We certainly enjoyed our time here and my family and I have made many lifelong friendships in Australia. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the organisation for giving me the opportunity to coach the Brave and to also thank all our players, staff, fans and sponsors for their time and dedication."
"I’ve enjoyed my 15 seasons in the AIHL and giving back to the sport that has treated me so well over the years, and I wish the CBR Brave all the very best in 2020 and beyond."
But when asked what he’ll cherish most from his time, he couldn’t go past the obvious.
“I can’t get past helping the Brave win its first Goodall Cup in 2018 as my number one highlight. It was a special moment for the Brave and the entire ice hockey community in Canberra, and I feel fortunate to have been part of this success.”
Coach Robert Starke, the True King of the North is signing off.