ECHL Coach Profile: Swamp Rabbits’ Head Coach Andrew Lord

Photo Credit: Jake Farmer/InsideTheRink

Now that the ECHL 2024 season has ended, every team has been halted until October 2024, when the 2025 season starts. With every team comes a coaching staff, and with every coaching staff comes a head coach manning the helm of coaching 20 or so players to do their absolute best in the Premier Double-A Hockey League. Before the playoffs began and the season concluded, Swamp Rabbits’ head coach, Andrew Lord, was granted to be a coach for the 2024 ECHL All-Star game and be able to coach his own team’s goalie, Ryan Bednard and weeks after that, on April 17, the league announced that they awarded him the John Brophy Award as the League’s Coach of the Year.

While the 2023-24 season was underway, Head Coach Andrew Lord saw his time as a hungry coach looking for a deeper opportunity at higher placemarks in the league’s standings – and, of course, a longer playoff run. The Swamp Rabbits, under Andrew Lord and company, slowly but surely rose to the top of the South Division and Eastern Conference. During the Covid pandemic, Lord would get the first coaching gig in the ECHL for the Swamp Rabbits at the start of the 2020-21 season. He would serve as head coach and Director of Hockey Operations for them for his first season, and then the season after, he would serve as head coach, general manager, and Director of Hockey Operations. After the 2023-24 regular season, Lord had a 155-94-30-9 record for 288 games with a 0.606 win percentage. Since joining the ranks of head coach, Lord summoned the Rabbits to four consecutive playoff appearances, including the 2021 Eastern Conference final during the harsh conditions of COVID-19. The previous two postseasons before 2024 hadn’t gone as far as the team had hoped, only playing in round one – getting shut down by two Florida teams. However, the 2024 season was looking to be different, as the current Swamp Rabbits team had new and familiar faces with great depth and coaching. Under the coaching of Lord and Kyle Mountain, the team were able to reach the south division title from a record of 44-23-4-1 for 93 points with a 0.646. Things were looking great for them and the city of Greenville; great talent could possibly advance into the trenches of a longer playoff appearance. But their third straight first-round foe would be yet another Florida team, and that run, unfortunately, would tell the same story: another first-round exit. The Rabbits lost the series in game six at Greenville against the Orlando Solar Bears.

After four seasons in the Swamp Rabbits’ organization, Lord was under three AHL/NHL affiliates: the first was the Charlotte Checkers and Carolina Hurricanes, the second was the Checkers and Panthers, and the third and current is Ontario Reign and LA Kings. With those affiliates comes talent being sent down and up in the ECHL. Just this last season, Lord saw an influx of talent being produced for the LA Kings franchise, including goalies Ryan Bednard and Jacob Ingham; forwards Nikita Pavlychev, Colton Young and Ryan Francis; and D-men Tyler Inamoto, Wyatte Wylie and Max Martin.

Lord has had quite a career in professional hockey. Before the Swamp Rabbits, Lord played professionally, first starting in the ECHL as a forward playing right handed. Beginning his pro career for the Wheeling Nailers during the 2008-09 season, he would play three seasons in the Premier Double-A League for that club. In his first season, he played 69 games, tallying up 18 goals and 31 assists. The season after that, he would play 70 for the Nailers, tallying up 17 goals and 19 assists, while getting his first AHL exposure with the Rochester Americans, as he would play three games there. His first look at the highest minor hockey league would only amplify his career within the ECHL and AHL, as Lord would play his last season in Wheeling and serve as captain during the 2010-11 season. His final season in the “Coast” and Wheeling would be short, as he would only play 26 games and tally up 17 goals and 19 assists, and would then receive the call-up to the American League from the Milwaukee Admirals. His run with the Admirals wouldn’t last long, as he played just two games before getting loaned to the former AHL team, the Oklahoma City Barons. For the Barons, he would play 34 games and finish out the season by tallying up a goal and six assists. The season after, of the 2011-12 season, Lord wouldn’t play at all despite being contracted with the Barons. And that would be his last time in North America before he would play in Europe from 2012-18. Now the majority of his playing career overseas would be for the Cardiff Devils of the EIHL. After he completed five seasons for the Devils, playing 216 games and tallying up 173 points, Lord would embark on another position in hockey: coaching. But he wouldn’t leave Cardiff for that, he would instead stay put to coach his first season as player-head coach in 2014, and conclude it after 2019 while serving as director of hockey ops. And after that long run, Lord would head back to America to head coach and run the Swamp Rabbits until 2024.

Now that the offseason is occurring, players and coaches are making moves as to where they’ll work for the 2024-25 season. Today, June 14, it was announced by the Swamp Rabbits that Lord would embark on a new coaching journey in the QMJHL as the Halifax Mooseheads new head coach. The Québec Maritime Junior Hockey League (formerly the Québec Major Junior League) is one of the highest junior leagues in Canada under the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). So much NHL talent has been brewed there, including the development of Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux of Pittsburgh; Anthony Duclair, Alex Barré-Boulet, and Nikita Kucherov of Tampa Bay; Jonathan Marchessault of Vegas; Yanni Gourde of Seattle; and so many more. There’s no doubt that player development in the juniors can advance into the National Hockey League. Now that Andrew Lord is the 14th head coach for the Mooseheads, the team hopes to rebuild prior to the start of the new season. He replaces Jim Midgley, who was fired after the Mooseheads were first-round exits during the playoffs. For every head coach comes their assistants and associates: Lord will work alongside Brad MacKenzie, who will be associate coach to him; MacKenzie has served three seasons for the team as defensive and PK coach.

The QMJHL season will begin September 20, 2024, and have 64 regular season games.

Jake Farmer

I'm a photographer and writer covering the ECHL Greenville Swamp Rabbits based in Greenville, South Carolina. Twitter and Instagram: JakeCF.Hockey

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