OSHAWA, Ont. – Justin Caruana, a familiar face at UOIT, will be behind the bench for the Ridgebacks next season in a new role.
The men's hockey associate head coach, Caruana, was named the head coach of the women's hockey team.
"We're really looking forward to having Justin join the women's hockey program in a full-time capacity as head coach after being involved with our men's program for the past three seasons," said Scott Barker, manager of intercollegiate athletics. "After an extensive search we felt that Justin would be the best fit for the team. He brings a significant amount of experience to the table and with his hockey connections should be able to bring the best female players to our campus for both academics and athletics."
Caruana has been involved with the hockey program at UOIT since 2012, joining the Ridgebacks after a successful career in the OHL and CIS. He played five seasons with the Carleton Ravens, who joined the league the same year as the Ridgebacks (2007-08). While there he played 117 regular season games for the Ravens and was the team's assistant captain.
Prior to joining Carleton, Caruana played four seasons with the Peterborough Petes. He played 211 games, 33 of which were playoff games, and in the 2005-06 season helped the Petes advance to the Memorial Cup in Moncton, N.B. by winning their ninth OHL Championship.
"I was very excited when I got the call," said Caruana. "It's something I was looking forward to and wanted. Once I got the call I was overwhelmed with joy and excitement."
The Orono native said he won't have too much time to relax and enjoy the positive news. He is already making plans for the 2015-16 season and has met with the team to formally introduce himself, although being involved with the men's program has allowed him to also get to know the women's team.
"I'm familiar with them and they're familiar with me, but I formally want to introduce myself and talk to them about our plans as a group for the fall," he said. "From there I'll be getting my face out there right away to start recruiting. I'll also be starting to work on our plans for what we want to do this season such as our systems, the way we want to play and what our goal will be as a group."
Barker believes having a full-time position will allow the program to be more competitive down the road.
"I'm excited to have a coach that can commit full-time to recruiting and athlete development to move our program forward from our early successes," said Barker. "That is a huge part of growth and success of hockey in the OUA, so we're excited for what this will do for the Ridgebacks women's team in coming seasons."
Source: UOIT Ridgebacks