by Brad Pepple
Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Fort Wayne - these cities are just the start for Indianapolis General Manager and Coach, Ron Ullyot. He was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - lived for five years in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan where his father (Ken Ullyot) was General Manager and Coach of the Prince Albert Mintos - moved to Fort Wayne in the summer of 1958. Ron has had coaching jobs in Fort Worth, Texas - Columbus, Ohio - Port Huron, Michigan - Fort Wayne, Indiana and he is now in Indianapolis. How does someone cope with that type of lifestyle? "I love it," says Ron. "Moving and uprooting is a drastic change in life, but, for me, it is an opportunity for excitement. I really love the challenge of a new city, developing friendships and also the task of building hockey players into a team."
Was there any pressure in trying to be a winner in Fort Wayne? "There really wasn't any pressure except what I put on myself. I have always wanted to win so badly in Fort Wayne partly because it was home, but also because I was so close to my dad and to Colin Lister. Fort Wayne has a great tradition of having a winning team, and I wanted that pride to continue."
Making the change from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis wasn't as kind to Ron Ullyot as he had hoped. Indianapolis finished last in the IHL West division with 88 points. Last place is not a familiar finish for a coach who has a history of winning, not only as a coach, but also in his playing career. According to Coach Ullyot, this year will be different. "We have a lot more speed this year and about ten quality players who can put the puck in the net. "Among those who Ullyot is counting on this year are- Bob Lakso (58 games, 41 goals, 35 assists), George Savanis, a pro from Minnesota North Stars - Tim Helmer, Todd Bjorkstrand and Ron Handy.
The Indianapolis franchise has a new jingle which they hope will bring a more successful IHL team, but also lead eventually to the NHL. It is called "The Road to the NHL." That is the new slogan around Indianapolis in their drive to become an NHL franchise. According to Ullyot, "this won't become a reality until we are able to average around 6,000 fans per game." Indianapolis is off to a fast start in their home opener- they drew 8,088 fans as they defeated the Komets 7-6 in overtime.
Komet coach Robbie Laird has both played for and coached against Ron. "He is very knowledgeable about the game, and if you are not prepared he will be a step ahead of you. He likes to match his players against yours rather than play his own lines when he wants to. I have a lot of respect for Ronnie and for what he has put into hockey."
Hockey is not the only event consuming Ronnie's days. His wife (Laurie) is currently expecting their first child later on in early 1987. This is not a new experience, but he will be a father for the first time in 17 years.
Outside of hockey life (not a whole lot of spare time) Ron enjoys playing golf, fishing and hunting. "Enjoying nature has always been one of my favorite pastimes." Consistency and
dedication are two of Coach Ullyot's obvious characteristics which is why the other IHL teams are concerned about the Indianapolis Checkers this season.