Coach Niec Suspended 6 Games; Huvarova Named Interim Head Coach

Winston-Salem, NC - The Federal Hockey League announced this week that Head Coach Andre Niec has been suspended six games due to his actions in Saturday night's 6-0 win over Port Huron. With Niec suspended, the Carolina Thunderbirds have announced Team Trainer Karolina Huvarova as Interim Head Coach in his absence. This would make Huvarova the first European woman to coach a men's professional game, second overall to Nicole Kirnan of the 1000 Islands Privateers.

"They say that the best things seem to come when you are least expecting them; and I'll be honest, this was not expected, but it is still very exciting." Huvarova said. "The team is very strong this year and I look forward to keeping that strong start going. This team is tough and even with Andre suspended, we will still be tough to play against."

Huvarova comes immensely qualified to coach the Thunderbirds team. She carries a Master's Degree from the University of Ostrava and she has been involved in the personal training field for the last 15 years. She has served as the team trainer for Niec for the last four years, going back to his time as the coach of the now defunct Berlin River Drivers. "I'm not just going to be some Barbie doll on the bench." Huvarova said. "I'm smart when it comes to hockey and fitness being around it as long as I have, and fans should know that the team is in good hands for these few weeks." 

Huvarova also possesses communication skills that any other interim head coach would lack with Niec being out. She can speak multiple languages fluently and that will come in handy for a team that rosters players from upwards of seven different countries. "I think it's a great selection for the team." President and GM Scott Brand said. "She's watched Andre and his teams play for a number of years, and just as important as her experience with the team is her ability to communicate with our very diverse locker room."

Huvarova will man the bench for the remainder of this home stand, with games against Elmira this weekend and Danville on Nov. 9-10. The Thunderbirds' first road trip will also have Huvaorva as the head coach when the team travels to Elmira to play the Enforcers Nov. 16-17. Coach Niec's suspension ends after the November 17 game.

The Carolina Thunderbirds are proud members of the Federal Hockey League, now in its ninth season. The Thunderbirds are in their second season of play, looking to build on the success of their inaugural season where the team posted an 87-point season with a record of 25-24-5-2 (W-L-OTW-OTL). The Thunderbirds also set an FHL record with over 65,000 fans through the doors in their first season and six sellout crowds. Season and group tickets are on sale now by calling (336) 774-GOAL(4625).