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OHL's Rangers name WJHC gold-winning Ahokas head coach

Jussi Ahokas and Team Finland Jussi Ahokas and Team Finland - The Canadian Press

The Kitchener Rangers have turned to Finland for the 25th head coach in franchise history.

The Ontario Hockey League team named Jussi Ahokas head coach on Monday.

“Jussi’s resume speaks for itself," general manager Mike McKenzie said in a statement. "He has already accomplished so much at the club and international level in Finland. We are thrilled he has chosen to take the next step in his decorated career by coming to North America and thankful it will be here in Kitchener. I look forward to working with Jussi and seeing our player’s benefit from his care and coaching.”

The 42-year-old Ahokas spent the past four seasons as a head coach in the Finnish Elite League, first with KooKoo and then the last two seasons with TPS. But Ahokas's experience with junior players is extensive, including having led the Finnish national teams to gold medals at the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in North Dakota and the 2019 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Vancouver.

“I’m really excited and really honoured,” Ahokas in a statement. “In Finland, we know what the Kitchener Rangers are about and the type of organization they are. I feel privileged to get this opportunity to coach in Canada, especially in Kitchener. I cannot wait for the season to start and look forward to working with the Rangers’ business and hockey staff moving forward.”

Ahokas succeeds Chris Dennis, who was fired in February, as permanent head coach. McKenzie took over behind the bench on an interim basis for the remainder of last season upon Dennis's dismissal.