For the first time in 15 years Potsdam native Glenn Thomaris is the head coach of a hockey team.
Thomaris, a former Clarkson player, was hired as the head coach of the Federal Prospects Hockey League’s expansion Elmira Mammoth on Tuesday.
His last head coaching position was with the SUNY Potsdam men’s team from 2001-07.
He was an assistant coach with the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals from 2013-16.
Thomas, who worked as an assistant at Clarkson from 1984-87, is best known for his time as the head coach of Elmira College’s NCAA Division III program from 1987-2001.
He holds a career head coaching record of 316-198-23, for a .610 winning percentage.
“I’ve learned an awful lot,” Thomaris said of the years after leaving SUNY Potsdam. “I’ve learned about preparation, training, commitment and demeanor on the bench.
“(My style) has not changed an awful lot. I’m hoping we can still play some defense and protect our goaltenders.”
Elmira has been working on upgrading its home rink, First Arena.
The owner of the Mammoth is Steve Donner, who previously owned the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, among other minor league franchises.
“He was thinking about getting out of the hockey business,” Thomaris said of Donner. “This project came along. They thought they’d like to get hockey (back to Elmira). The Federal League is a good league for them to get started in.”
Elmira previously played in the FPHL as the Enforcers, when they were the primary rivals of the Watertown Wolves. But the city dropped out of the league for the 2021-22 season with designs on returning.
Thomaris, who is popular with hockey fans in Elmira and a member of the college’s Athletic Hall of Fame, was mentioned by locals to Donner as a potential coach for the new franchise.
“Some people said I was available and they should take a look at me and my background,” Thomaris said. “(Donner) called and asked if I was interested. Everything he believes in is the same as me.”
Thomaris, who played at Clarkson from 1974-77 with Dave Taylor under coach Jerry York, said his family has supported his decision to come out of retirement.
“They are excited for me,” Thomaris said. “My wife said I’ve been doing it for almost 40 years and should keep on going.”
Thomaris has lived in Elmira since he started coaching the college team in 1987. When he was at SUNY Potsdam he lived in town with his parents, but he came back to Elmira on days off to be with his family.
“It’s a great city,” Thomaris said of Elmira. “It’s a small-town city. Everything you can imagine is here, between restaurants and shopping and entertainment. The (arena) is very easy to get to. We live probably a three-minute car ride from it.”
Thomaris was officially hired Tuesday, but he won’t get busy on the ice until the first week of August when the team has two free agent camps.
“I’ve seen (the Federal League),” Thomaris said. “I know a little bit about it. I am learning more and more as we go along what it’s all about. It will be interesting to see how it goes. With Covid issues, it was down to four teams (in 2021). It was a scramble. Now we’ve expanded to be a 10-team league. It should generate a lot more excitement.
“We have a bit of a base to work with. It’s a matter of trying to convince guys to come to Elmira. The rest is based on networking I’ve had over the years. The community and facility are all fantastic.”