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Chris Murphy, Published July 10 2013

Spuds boys hockey team in midst of coaching search

FARGO – According to Moorhead Public School’s human resources department, Jon Ammerman and Craig Larson were in the last round of interviews for the Moorhead head varsity boys hockey coaching job in early April.

Pete Cullen won the job, after serving a year as interim head coach and leading the Spuds to a fifth-place finish in the Minnesota Class 2A state tournament. An anonymous e-mail – leading to an investigation – and a Cullen resignation later, and the job is in the process of being filled again.

The posting for the opening closes Friday, but Larson was quick to take himself out of the speculation. Larson recently became the youth hockey director for the Pequot Lakes Youth Hockey Association.

“I have a job now, so I don’t want to get in trouble with them thinking I’m still looking around,” Larson said Wednesday. “There was teaching jobs open when I applied for (the Moorhead job), which was a big part of the reason why I did it. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to coach there, but I couldn’t just go out there to just coach. If it would have included something similar to what I’m doing now, it’d be a completely different story. I don’t think that works that way there.”

Larson was a former Minnesota Junior Hockey League coach and scout and St. Cloud Apollo High School hockey coach.

Ammerman, on the other hand, left the door wide open for speculation, not answering whether or not he reapplied for the coaching job.

“I’ve been focused on looking at the classroom,” Ammerman said Wednesday. “I was hired as a teacher in the beginning of May for Moorhead High, so now that’s my focus. I guess right now I don’t know if that’s something that should be discussed. The job is still open for applications.”

Ammerman is a 2005 graduate of Moorhead and played in the Minnesota state tournament three times with the Spuds before playing collegiate hockey at St. Cloud State University where he earned All-Western Collegiate Hockey Association academic honors. Ammerman served as Windom Area’s head boys hockey coach for two seasons before taking the teaching position in Moorhead in late May. In an article published in the Cottonwood County Citizen newspaper in Windom, Minn., Ammerman said he was offered a teaching position and an assistant coaching job, but now Ammerman says none of that is official.

“Right now, I’m just a high school social studies teacher,” Ammerman said. “With me coming back to Moorhead in May, it’s not exactly hockey season. Officially, I don’t have a title. Nothing has really been decided upon. The process will play out.”

Moorhead Athletic Director Dean Haugo was clear when the job was posted that previous applicants would not get special treatment.

“We re-opened it and are accepting applications whether they applied previously or whether they are new,” Haugo said.

Ammerman is fully prepared to help Moorhead hockey in any way possible.

“I’m an alumni and I had the pleasure of playing for a lot of really good coaches through Moorhead youth hockey and the high school program,” Ammerman said. “Being a player that was thankful for what I was given, I’m hoping I can somehow give back to the program that brought me up. Now, being back in Moorhead, I’d like to help out with hockey in any way shape or form.”

He’s also fully aware of the pressure that comes with taking over the orange and black jerseys.

“The Moorhead job brings a lot of pressure, which is one way to look at it,” Ammerman said. “Another way is that people care about it. It’s something that is close to people’s hearts. It’s had a lot of people invested in it for a number of decades. It’s an important job and it’s important for the development of hockey players and, more importantly, young men. With an important job like that comes important responsibilities.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548