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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : sports : sports August 20, 2014


2/27/2012 9:26:00 PM
Sundogs fire coaches Pietroniro, Bartolone
Management hires new head coach David Lohrei
Photos by Les Stukenberg/The Daily CourierArizona Sundogs Head Coach and General Manager Marco Pietroniro and Assistant Coach Chris Bartolone watch the action from the bench in this Daily Courier file photo. Pietroniro and Bartolone were fired Sunday and the team has named David Lohrei as its new head coach moving forward.
Photos by Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier

Arizona Sundogs Head Coach and General Manager Marco Pietroniro and Assistant Coach Chris Bartolone watch the action from the bench in this Daily Courier file photo. Pietroniro and Bartolone were fired Sunday and the team has named David Lohrei as its new head coach moving forward.
David Lohrei was named the teamís new head coach Monday.
David Lohrei was named the teamís new head coach Monday.

Peter Marx
The Daily Courier


The Arizona Sundogs announced Monday morning that head coach Marco Pietroniro and assistant coach Chris Bartolone had been fired and released from their coaching duties.

The coaching change comes after three straight losing seasons between 2008 and 2010, not including a losing record of 16-28-9 this season.

"The decision we made was a collective decision made by all of the investors," Arizona Sundogs co-owner Brad Fain said. "We were in contact with Chris Presson (Sundogs GM of Business Operations) and others to make sure we made the right decision."

Fain continued, "Even though we have relieved Marco and Chris of their coaching duties, we want them to go out with the utmost dignity and respect they deserve ... I think it was just time for our organization and him (Pietroniro) to take a different path. We wish Marco and Chris all the best and we hope they find their direction and they find where they want to go ... It just didn't work out."

Pietroniro, who was in his sixth season as the team's head coach, led the Sundogs to the 2008 Ray Miron Presidents' Cup Championship, but during the last four years, he has complied a combined record of 82-125-30. His teams reached the playoffs three out of five seasons.

"I was surprised, you know. I wasn't expecting that," Pietroniro said in a telephone interview about his in-season firing. "I'm definitely going to leave the team with no regrets. I gave this organization all I have ... I'm proud of what I've done for the community and for the organization."

Bartolone also was surprised by the move, but he said he understands that it is part of the game.

"I was definitely surprised, or shocked. I definitely wasn't thinking that. With the wins and losses that's the nature of the business sometimes," the former Sundogs captain said. "This has been a great six years. The fans have been great. The community has been great. Winning a championship with the Sundogs was a highlight of mine for sure, being captain and the face of the team. I've definitely taken those things to heart."

Bartolone finished a 15-year pro career with the Sundogs from 2006-10 where he appeared in a franchise record 260 games. The veteran defenseman averaged nearly a point a game with 238 points in those appearances - 56 goals and 182 assists. He served as the team's assistant for the past two seasons.

Both Pietroniro and Bartolone plan to remain in the Prescott area despite being released from the team.

Management couldn't pinpoint why exactly the team wasn't able to continue its success under the direction of Pietroniro.

"I can't give you a straight answer," Presson said. "You have to have some bounces. You have to have some luck in many ways, not only on the ice but off the ice as well. I can just tell you this year, that's the only year I can speak to, is we haven't had many bounces."

With Pietroniro and Bartolone out of the picture, the Sundogs introduced new head coach David Lohrei, who brings six years of professional coaching experience to the team.

Lohrei coached three years in the Central Hockey League and was named the league's coach of the year twice in 1997-98 with the Nashville Ice Flyers and 1999-2000 with the Fayetteville Force.

The coach, who has an overall record of 201-143-40 between the CHL and ECHL, plans to bring an up-tempo style of play to the Sundogs.

"The game these days is all about attack and we need to attack," he said. "We need our defensemen up ice. We need forwards getting to the net. It doesn't work if you don't do that."

Prior to accepting the Arizona head coaching position, Lohrei had been serving as the owner and operator of Maximum Sports Performance in Madison, Wis. - an operation dedicated to training and improving the performance of athletes.

The coach hasn't had much time to get to know the players on the team, as he has worked with them only one time on Sunday night. But he did say he plans to come in and make an impression right away.

"I heard a saying the other day, 'If it's not working, you're not working hard enough'," he said. "It's obviously not working. I'm not going to say that they aren't working hard enough, but I will make sure they understand."

The coach didn't rule out bringing back a few current players for next season, but he also wants the team to keep their options open and get out on the recruiting trail.

Presson, who has known Lohrei for about 15 years, initially contacted the coach several months ago.

"I reached out to him initially about two months ago just to bend his hear about our players and our situation," the GM said. "I put his name out there to the ownership group."

Lohrei will be behind the bench during tonight's game against the Rapid City Rush.

Game time is 7:05 p.m. at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.

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Related Stories:
• Letter: Arizona Sundogs staff changes don't sit well
• Editorial: Sundogs plotting a new course


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Article comment by: @Die Hard Fan

Is that all it takes to be a major supporter, a tattoo? ...
I do think that this new coach doesnt look like he is that proven, but hey we cant go any farther down than we are now. I would give him a good look the rest of this season and if it's not good enough, see ya later! The fact that him and Presson were friends from way back also makes me nervous ...


Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Article comment by: One last ridiculous comment from Marco...

Marco says "I was surprised, you know. I wasn't expecting that," Pietroniro said in a telephone interview about his in-season firing". What? Are you serious!? Thats just proves he thought he was untouchable and didnt take the fans, owners or anybody serious! How is it a surprise when your in last place for 4+ seasons. Any pro coach would expect to be on the chopping block. But we didnt have a pro coach in him, we had a guy who coached Pee Wee hockey then got a pro job handed to him by his Buddy/Owner...Thats for whatever you did but, that quote makes me glad he's gone now!!!

Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Article comment by: Jennifers still clueless

Jennifer, if they do lose fans it will be a whole lot less than they will gain by doing what had to happen. If they win, this will turn around. I hope the best for Marco and Chris, but this needed to happen. Have they done anything with this team since Lacroix left? I dont think so. This is pro sports, not a popularity contest. If you had million of dollars tied into this team, would you keep a losing coaching staff on the pay roll?

Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Article comment by: Die hard fan

David Lohrei hasnt been behind the bench coaching in 10 years and has never won a cup and everyone thinks he was such a great choice. You cant tell me Chris Presson didnt come here with the intention of bringing on his friend of 15 + years. You know nothing about loyalty to a team or a club. I am with Jennifer, who by the way is a major fan. Dont think for a second she hasnt support the entire team every season since they started. She has a tattoo of the sundogs S for god sake

Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Article comment by: Tom Catanzarite

The first two years my wife and I enjoyed the Sundogs as much as any other team we followed for 35 years. Thanks guys for the efforts.
Like all of us if we don't perform we get let go. Sports is no different and the owners need to make the decision to provide the fans with the product they are willing to pay for. Over the last 4 years I saw no real difference in the Sundogs talent level compared to the other teams. Leadership is needed to get the team to play like a team.
Good Luck New Coach.


Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012
Article comment by: Sundog Fan

Yes Jennifer there are a few fans like you who will leave because of this and I do mean a few, but they will stand a good chance of bringing fans back and a lot of which will make up drastically for the few that will leave. This new coach has a great attitude and if your a true fan of the team not just Marco and Barts, you'll give him a fair chance. The same one everyone gave Marco when he first came here and it's what they would want for the team.

Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012
Article comment by: Jennifer Smith

Sundogs owners have lost fans with this one. My family being several of them. Best wishes to Marco and Chris. You guys are amazing coaches and friends. You will be missed.

Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012
Article comment by: Mark Sundog Fan

Just finished listening to the Sundog's coach's show on 1130 AM with the new coach David Lohrei. By George, we've got ourselves a real live hockey head coach. He sounds like a hockey coach....everything he said is right on and he obviously knows what he is doing. I must add: Chris Presson, you made a absolutely solid choice. Hockey has risen from the dead in Prescott Valley.

Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012
Article comment by: ron reek

"BREAKING NEWS"............................LOL

Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012
Article comment by: Dave Klondike

It's about time. A Year and a half too late, but the right move. Now I guess I'll have to live up to my word and attend a Sundogs game this year, now that Marco is gone. Yes, I am a fair weather fan. With Marco gone, the weather is much more fair.

Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012
Article comment by: Had to Happen!

This had to happen. On one hand I'm glad they made the change but being a fan since day one, its also a sad feeling for Marco. But in the business of pro sports he kinda hung himself with the dismal record we have seen the last 4+ seasons. @John Az. They really had no choice but to get rid of Barts also. when you bring in a new coach, that new coach has to feel in complete control if we want changes...Also the CHL is charging a luxury tax now on teams with asst coaches...Best of luck to Marco and Chris. Thanks for the good memories!

Posted: Monday, February 27, 2012
Article comment by: John AZ

It is understandable why they fired Marco, however, letting Barts go is definitely a hair-brained idea. The team already has some huge PR problems, why would they add to it by firing someone as respected and loved as Barts is? Sometimes owners are completely out of touch with reality.



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