Des Moines Buccaneers: The Enduring Legacy of Coaches Reilly and Mannino in Junior Ice Hockey Success

Des Moines Buccaneers

Des Moines Buccaneers, a junior ice hockey team based in Urbandale, Iowa, has been a strong presence in the United States Hockey League (USHL) since its inception in 1980. The team has achieved notable success over the years, and much of it can be attributed to the exemplary coaching of their current head coach, Peter Mannino, who took over the reins in 2019. However, before Mannino, the team had another formidable leader in Coach Gene Reilly, whose legacy continues to have a profound impact on the program. In this article, we will explore the evolution of the Des Moines Buccaneers and the significant role of Coach Legacy in shaping the team’s success. to the Des Moines Buccaneers

The Des Moines Buccaneers, also known as The Bucs, are a junior ice hockey team in the USHL, one of the top leagues for amateur and junior hockey in the United States. The team has consistently been a strong performer in the league, having won two Clark Cups (2006 and 2010) and five USHL Anderson Cups (1993, 1997, 2010, 2015, and 2020). The Bucs have also produced several notable NHL players, including Derek Stepan, Zemgus Girgensons, and Joe Pavelski. These successes can be attributed to the team’s strong leadership and dedicated players, but one person’s legacy stands out in particular: Coach Gene Reilly.

Coach Gene Reilly: The Early Days

Gene Reilly joined the Des Moines Buccaneers in 1992 as an assistant coach and took over as head coach in 1994. Reilly had a long history in the game, having played college hockey at Michigan State University before embarking on a professional career in the former World Hockey Association. He also coached at the high school and college levels before joining the Bucs.

Reilly’s Impact on the Des Moines Buccaneers

Reilly’s tenure with the Bucs spanned over two decades, and during this time, he made a significant impact on the program. He was known for his intense dedication and attention to detail, demanding nothing but the best from his players. He instilled a strong work ethic and discipline, which permeated throughout the team. Under his leadership, the Bucs became known for their physicality and toughness on the ice, earning them the reputation of being a team that no one wanted to face.

One of Reilly’s greatest strengths was his ability to develop young players. Many players who went on to have successful careers in the NHL credit Reilly for their development during their time with the Bucs. Under Reilly’s guidance, the Bucs produced a steady stream of top-level talent, including NHL stars Pavelski and Pavol Demitra. This emphasis on player development significantly contributed to the team’s success on the ice.

In addition to on-ice success, Reilly was also known for his community involvement. He established a strong connection between the team and the city of Des Moines, with players regularly volunteering and participating in community events. Reilly also initiated the annual Pink in the Rink game, which raises awareness and funds for breast cancer research. This commitment to giving back to the community further endeared Reilly to the Bucs fans and cemented his legacy as a coach who not only cared about winning but also about making a positive impact on society.

The Impact of Coach Legacy on the Program

In 2018, after 24 successful years with the Des Moines Buccaneers, Reilly retired from coaching. He left a lasting legacy, having built a team with a strong foundation of culture, discipline, and hard work. However, the Bucs would not stay without a coach for long, as Peter Mannino was named the head coach the following year.

Mannino, a former NHL player and Bucs assistant coach, had big shoes to fill as he stepped into the role of head coach. But he was no stranger to the program, having been a part of the Bucs family for over ten years. Under Mannino’s leadership, the Bucs have continued their winning ways, finishing with the best overall record in the league during the 2019–2020 season and securing the Anderson Cup. Moreover, like his predecessor, Reilly, Mannino has maintained a strong focus on player development, and many of the team’s players have blossomed under his guidance.

Despite Mannino’s success, it is evident that Coach Legacy continues to have a significant impact on the program. His presence is still felt in the high expectations, discipline, and community involvement that have become synonymous with Des Moines Buccaneers hockey. Mannino has also embraced and built upon Reilly’s legacy, making sure that the team continues to honor and uphold the traditions and values that have made the Bucs a successful and respected organization.

The main takeaway

The Des Moines Buccaneers have evolved into a successful and highly regarded program in the USHL, thanks in large part to the leadership of Coach Legacy. Gene Reilly’s dedication, passion for the game, and commitment to development have left an indelible mark on the team. With Coach Mannino continuing to build upon this legacy, the Bucs show no signs of slowing down, making them one of the most exciting teams to watch in the league.


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