Kevin McDonald - Assistant General Manager, Avalanche & General Manager, Colorado Eagles
Kevin McDonald enters his first season as the General Manager of the Eagles, while also serving in his first year as Assistant General Manager for the NHL's Colorado Avalanche.
McDonald was the recipient of the 2022 Thomas Ebright Memorial Award, which is annually presented for outstanding career contributions to the American Hockey League. He served as the General Manager of the Blues' American Hockey League affiliate beginning in 2018 and in that role, was also a pro scout for St. Lous. With his guidance and input in the team personnel decisions, McDonald played an important role in the Blues capturing the 2019 Stanley Cup Championship.
The Lawrence, Massachusetts, native joined the Blues organization prior to the 2001-02 season as a professional scout and was promoted to Director of Professional Scouting within two seasons, taking on the role in 2003. McDonald took on the role of General Manager of the Blues' former AHL affiliate, peoria Rivermen, in June 2005 before being named an Assistant General Manager for St. Louis in May 2009.
McDonald began his career in professional hockey in 1988 as a member of the New York Rangers' communications department. Following the Rangers' Stanley Cup Championship run in 1993-94, he moved into the Rangers' hockey operations and worked as an assistant to Rangers General Manager Neil Smith during the lockout shortened 1994-95 season.
McDonald resides in North Andover, Massachusetts, where he lives with his wife Lauren, his two children Sean and Kayleigh, and his three step-children Joseph, Jenna and Daniel.
Aaron Schneekloth - Head Coach
Schneekloth enters his first season as head coach of the Colorado Eagles as the current AHL affiliate. He has spent the last 10 years on the Eagles’ coaching staff, which included a pair of championship seasons as the team’s head coach while the Eagles were Colorado’s ECHL affiliate. He led the Eagles to back-to-back Kelly Cup titles in 2016-17 and 2017-18, posting a 95-38-11 (.698) combined regular-season record followed by a 32-12 playoff mark. The Calgary, Alberta, native finished runner-up for ECHL Coach of the Year in both campaigns.
Including his final seven years as a player, the upcoming 2023-24 campaign will mark Schneekloth’s 18th consecutive season with the Eagles organization.
Schneekloth, who turns 45 on July 15, has served as the Eagles’ assistant coach for the past five seasons since 2018-19. He began his coaching career with the ECHL Eagles in 2013-14 and spent three years in that role before taking over the head coaching position in 2016-17.
A former defenseman, Schneekloth played 11 seasons professionally, including the last seven in an Eagles sweater, helping the team win a CHL championship in 2007. He was named the ECHL's Defenseman of the year in 2012, while being voted the CHL's Most Outstanding Defenseman in both 2009 and 2010. A four-time All-Star and a member of both the CHL's All-Decade Team and the Colorado Eagles All-Decade Team, Schneekloth was also named to the All-ECHL Team in 2012 and was voted to the All-CHL Team on three separate occasions (2008-2010).
Schneekloth retired in 2013 as the Eagles' all-time leader in points (356), goals (111) and assists (245) by a defenseman. He won an NCAA championship with the University of North Dakota in 2000.
Aaron and his wife, Kristie, have two children, son Gabe and daughter Bree.
Steve Konowalchuk- Associate Head Coach
Konowachuk is returning to the Avalanche organization where he not only finished his playing career but also started his coaching career. The Salt Lake City, Utah, native spent the final two seasons of his NHL playing career with Colorado in 2003-04 and 2005-06 before retiring at the start of the 2006 training camp due to a heart condition. Following one year in the Avalanche’s player development department (2007-08), Konowalchuk began his coaching career as an assistant with the Avalanche in 2009-10, helping Colorado to a 26-point turnaround and a spot in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He spent one more season as the Avalanche’s assistant coach in 2010-11 before joining the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League as their head coach in 2011-12.
Konowalchuk spent six seasons as Seattle’s head coach (2011-17), leading the club to five playoff berths and the 2016-17 Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions. After a one-year stint as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks in 2017-18, Konowalchuk joined the New York Rangers organization and worked as both an amateur and professional scout from 2018-21. He then returned to the WHL ranks, spending the past two seasons as head coach of the Red Deer Rebels (2021-23).
Selected by the Washington Capitals in the third round (58th overall) of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, Konowalchuk appeared in 790 career NHL games with the Capitals and Avalanche, totaling 171 goals and 396 points (171g/225a). He twice reached the 20-goal mark (23 in 1995-96 and 24 in 2000-01) and scored 19 goals with the Avalanche during his final full season of 2003-04. Konowalchuk added 21 points (9g/12a) in 52 career Stanley Cup Playoff contests.
Internationally, Konowalchuk helped the United States win gold at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey. He also played for Team USA at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, as well as the 2000 and 2002 IIHF World Championship and the 1992 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Steve and his wife, Leah, have two children, Cara and Cole, and a granddaughter, Emory.
Tim Branham - Assistant Coach
Branham, 40, enters his first season as an Eagles assistant coach after spending the previous eight seasons as the head coach and general manager of the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies. After beginning his career as Utah’s bench boss in 2013, Branham has since become the winningest and longest-tenured coach in Grizzlies history. The Eagles River, Wisconsin native guided the Grizzlies to a record of 284-205-76 and six playoff appearances during his time in West Valley City.
Prior to earning his first head coaching position, Branham spent three seasons as an assistant coach with the ECHL’s Reading Royals from 2010-2013. During his time with the Royals, the team went 143-89-23 in the regular season and captured the 2013 Kelly Cup title.
Branham was drafted in the third round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks and played 284 professional games in the ECHL and AHL during his playing career as a defenseman from 2002-2010.
Peter Budaj - Goaltending Coach
Budaj, 40, is in his second season as the goaltending coach for the Colorado Eagles and joined the team midway through the 2021-22 campaign after former goaltending coach Ryan BAch exited to become team president. The 63rd overall pick in the 2001 NHL Draft by the Colorado Avalanche, Budaj's career spanned 368 games with the Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens, Los Angeles Kings and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Slovakian native posted a record of 158-132-40 across 13 seasons in the Natioal Hockey League. He also appeared in 241 AHL contests with the Hershey BEars, St. John's IceCaps, Syracuse Crunch and Ontario Reign. Budaj was named the AHL's top goaltender for the 2015-16 season, a year in which he led the league with the lowest goals-against average at 1.75. He would punctuate his career by representing Slovakia on two different occasions at the Winter Olymics.
Hunter Diehl - Video Coach
Adam Strecker, ATC - Head Athletic Trainer
Strecker is in his second season with the Eagles and first as the Head Athletic Trainer. Prior to his time with the Eagles, Strecker spent four seasons as the Head Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Tri-City Storm of the USHL.
Prior to his time in the USHL, Strecker worked at Gillette Physical Therapy in Gillette, Wyoming. He provided athletic training services to the Gillette Wile (NA3HL) Hockey program, along with Gillette College Rodeo, Gillette College Men and Women's Basketball, Gillette College Men and Women's Soccer, Moorcroft High School athletics, Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, Little Guy Football League, and American Legion Baseball.
Strecker earned his bachelor's degree in athletic training from the University of Nebraska-Kearney in 2017.
Christian Galindo, ATC - Assistant Athletic Trainer
Bryce Blinkhorn - Head Equipment Manager
Blinkhorn is entering his third season as the Eagles Assistant Equipment Manager after recently having served as an Assistant Equipment Manager at the University of Minnesota-Duluth for the previous four seasons.
Blinkhorn also worked as an assistant during the Colorado Avalanche's Stanley Cup Playoff run in both 2020 and 2021.
Joe Pionk - Assistant Equipment Manager
The 2021-22 season is Pionk's second as the Eagles Assistant Equipment Manager, after spending the previous two seasons as the Head Equipment Manager for the USHL's Omaha Lancers. In addition, the Hermantown, Minnesota native spent the 2018-19 campaign as the Lancer's Assistant Equipment Manager before being promoted to the top spot in 2019.
The 22-year-old is the younger brother of current Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk.
Bobby Lucas - Strength and Conditioning Coach
Originally from Denver, Colorado; Lucas comes to the Eagles for his first season after working with the University of Michigan Hockey program last season. He spent the past three summers working with Prentiss Hockey Performance in Stamford, CT with numerous NHL players across the league.
Prior to Michigan, Lucas was with the Chicago Steel (USHL) for two seasons as Director of Performance & Sports Science. Before joining the Steel, he was again with the University of Michigan as a graduate assistant while getting his master's in Sports Management.
Lucas graduated from Penn State in 2016 with his degree in Kinesiology, and a focus in Movement Science. As an undergrad, he interned with the Penn State women's hockey and field hockey programs and worked for USA Field Hockey as Assistant Performance Coach during his senior year and through the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. Lucas also worked at Evansville University, overseeing nine of the school's D1 teams and with USA Rugby as a Performance Science Consultant.