ECHL: Iowa Heartlanders Key Assistant Leaves for NAHL Job

St. Cloud, Minnesota—On May 13th, the St. Cloud Norsemen of the NAHL announced that Joe Exter will be taking over as head coach and general manager of their team, effective immediately. With this, the Iowa Heartlanders’ search for a new associate head coach and assistant will begin immediately.


The NAHL is a US-based junior hockey league with 32 teams across 20 states and three more teams set to begin operations for the 2024-25 season.

Exter is known in many professional hockey circles for being the victim of a brutal collision in a college game in 2003. However, after playing two seasons for the Wheeling Nailers, he retired from hockey to pursue coaching and has accumulated a strong resume through 18 years of coaching, including assistant jobs for the US junior national team, Cedar Rapids Roughriders, Ohio State University, and Michigan State University. His experience with pre-professional hockey should give him a head start against the competition.

The Iowa Heartlanders will begin looking for their third associate head coach in their four years of operation. High turnover in this role indicates that the team’s hockey operations are highly sought after. Derek Damon was promoted to the Head Coach and General Manager Role after the 2021-22 season. Last week’s decision to extend Damon’s contract offered the team the ability to have a quick start on this search.

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