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Junior hockey: Willmar WarHawks name new head coach

New London-Spicer alumnus Payton Ruter is set to be at the helm of the WarHawks for the 2023-24 NA3HL season

Payton-Ruter-225x300.jpg
Payton Ruter, head coach of the Willmar WarHawks
Contributed / Willmar WarHawks

WILLMAR โ€” The Willmar WarHawks have a new head coach for the 2023-24 NA3HL season.

Payton Ruter will be at the helm of the WarHawks program, the team announced Monday.

Willmar WarHawks logo
Willmar WarHawks logo
Contributed / Willmar WarHawks

"I am extremely fortunate to be the next head coach of the Willmar WarHawks," Ruter said in a press release. "Being born and raised in the area makes we want to put the best product on the ice because I know how passionate people are towards their WarHawks."

Ruter, a graduate of New London-Spicer born and raised in Kandiyohi, played across the U.S. and Canada in various junior hockey programs. That list includes the Minnesota Junior Hockey League, Superior International Junior Hockey League, North American Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Ruter took on his first coaching experience at Marian University of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association. He also spent time over the past couple of years keeping in touch with junior hockey as a scout and volunteer assistant until those opportunities led him to Willmar.

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"Payton helped us out for parts of the 22-23 season and really showed his passion and perspective of the game. Being very helpful in so many ways and was an instant fit being well liked by the staff and players," WarHawks general manager Connor White said in a press release. "We knew right away if he was able to be part of the game full time that any organization would benefit from having him in a significant role. We are very pleased to have Payton on board and I look forward to working along side with him."

White, now WarHawks general manager, served as Willmar's head coach for one season in 2022-23. The team held a 20-25-2-0 record in the regular season and went 0-2-0-0 in the Fraser Cup Playoffs.

In 2023-24, White will also take on duties as an assistant coach and scout entering the 2023-24 season.

Before White became head coach, he served as an associate head coach to Kirk Olimb, who is now the head coach of the Division III Concordia-Moorhead .

Olimb led the WarHawks to a 72-56-4 overall record over his three seasons as head coach.

Michael Lyne joined the West Central Tribune as a sports reporter in May 2022, following his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and a minor degree in Spanish studies.

You may reach Michael at mlyne@wctrib.com, or by calling (320) 214-4345.
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