MOORHEAD — Ryan Kraft is second all-time for goals in Moorhead Spuds hockey history with 96 and fourth for assists with 86. The 1994 Moorhead High School graduate will return to Spuds hockey, as the head coach of the varsity girls hockey team, pending school board approval on June 24.
"I'm excited, I really am," Kraft said. "To have my kids go to the same high school as I did, the boys especially, and play for a varsity team I played and be a Spud, it's something I'm really, really excited to think about."
Whitney Restemayer served as the girls hockey coach for the previous two seasons, going 12-37-4 and 1-2 in the playoffs with the Spuds. Restemayer stepped aside from the position in May.
Kraft will be the fourth coach for the Spuds since 2013. The Spuds have gone 39-84-14 with three playoff wins in the past five seasons.
"I'm coming into this fully aware of the current situation and have a plan in place to change it," Kraft said. "I'm planning this to be a long-term situation.
"I think it starts at the youth level. We have to get more girls interested in playing hockey. We have to pull at their heart strings a little bit. There's a lot of options. We have to give them a reason to play hockey. Lets' get them on the ice and show them how fun it is. I think it has to start at the really, really young ages and getting these kids to smile about hockey."
Moorhead was looking for some stability with the hire.
"We were looking for someone who was poised and ready to take our program long term," Moorhead athletic director Dean Haugo said. "It was really important in this. He has a great passion to get back to Moorhead and raise his family. I think he also has a great passion to take our girls program and lead it to the level of our boys program. All the pieces of the puzzle are there. I think he recognizes that."
Kraft played in two state championship games with Moorhead in 1992 and 1994. No player in the 1994 Class 2A state hockey tournament had more points than Kraft, who finished with eight goals and one assist.
Kraft is a 2001 graduate of the University of Minnesota where he also played hockey. He was a captain on the 1997-98 team and a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association all-academic team from 1994-98. Kraft played professional hockey from 1998-2010, including time with the San Jose Sharks in the NHL.
Kraft has been an assistant with Lakeville (Minn.) North boys hockey, Hastings (Minn.) girls hockey and the Minnesota Magicians of the North American Hockey League.
"Where Ryan made a really big impression was for somebody of Ryan's talents as a player and his pedigree, he approached the job in a way that was extremely humble," Haugo said. "He was also hungry to lead our girls hockey team. He did not leave a stone unturned."
Kraft moved permanently away from Moorhead in 2002. He's ready to return to the Spuds.
"My mom and dad's side of the family are both in the area, my old classmates are, and a lot of those people have moved back," Kraft said. "Just looking to recollect and rebuild those relationships."