Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood hockey coach Andy Weidenbach watches from behind the bench Feb. 8 in a home game against Port Huron Northern. Weidenbach is in the midst of his last season of a 26-year coaching career.

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood hockey coach Andy Weidenbach watches from behind the bench Feb. 8 in a home game against Port Huron Northern. Weidenbach is in the midst of his last season of a 26-year coaching career.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

Weidenbach gearing up for one last playoff run at Cranbrook

By: Jacob Herbert | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 11, 2019


BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Since 1993, the parents, students, fans, school administrators and hockey players have all known one man placed behind the bench at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood.

Now, 26 years later, coach Andy Weidenbach is getting ready to end one chapter and start anew.

In nearly three decades as coach of the Cranes, Weidenbach’s résumé has enough in it to fill a novel. Since 1996, he has won 10 state titles, two runner-ups, 20 regional titles and four league championships competing in the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League, known as one of the toughest leagues in the state.

“Coach Weidenbach’s leadership brought structure, discipline, organization and credibility to the hockey program,” Cranbrook Athletic Director Steve Graf said. “He has tremendous respect for the sport and how it should be played, and has educated our hockey athletes on how to play hockey the right way.”

Weidenbach was inducted into the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2009, just two years after entering the National High School Athletics Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He has been named the Michigan High School Athletic Association Coach of the Year eight times.

“Everything he does is for a reason, and we as players recognize that,” senior defenseman Blake Salesin said. “We recognize how much he has put into the program and how much he cares about us as players and as people. It’s not just about hockey for him — it’s about us as students and as people who are going to be going on. We’re going to be done playing hockey eventually, and he knows that.”

With a 4-1 win over Birmingham Brother Rice Jan. 26, Weidenbach reached 500 wins, which for the veteran coach was just icing on the cake for an already remarkable career. Heading into the season, he had the fifth-most all-time victories in the state.

“When you start coaching, you don’t ever plan or put a number out there,” Weidenbach said. “Five hundred is a pretty significant amount of games to win; it’s a good feeling. We beat a really good opponent in Brother Rice, so it was a nice win. To get to 500 in my final season, I think that’s pretty special.”

Weidenbach’s impact on high school hockey goes beyond what he has accomplished with his own team. Weidenbach became president of the MIHL in 1999 and was an instrumental piece in forming the MIHL Showcase: a weekend full of matchups with Michigan’s most elite teams, with the objective of promoting hockey in the state and giving players a chance to play in front of junior, college and even NHL scouts.

Weidenbach also spent time as secretary and president of the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches Association. He was also a member of the National Federation of State High School Association’s rules committee.

When asked to reflect on his coaching career, Weidenbach said it’s the people he has gotten to work with every day who have made the job more enjoyable than it already was.

“It’s been great here,” he said. “Cranbrook has trusted me with the program, and I’ve got great support from the administration. I’ve had some great kids to work with and some great families. We have our own rink here and a lot of good resources. Overall, when I think back on it, I kind of have that pinch-me moment. It’s been a great run. No complaints at all.”

As for his post-retirement plans, Weidenbach and his wife plan to move to Florida in August. The coach said he will do some fishing and “play a lot of golf.” Other than that, he said he’ll have to figure out other ways to fill the day.

But before the warm weather and country clubs, the Cranes have a more pressing issue — the playoffs.

At press time, Cranbrook was 13-7-0 in the MIHL North Division. Weidenbach wants his team to iron out its special teams play with six games left until the postseason. The coach called it the last piece of the puzzle in making sure his team is set up for a deep run.

As excited as Weidenbach is to start a new chapter in life, he noted how much he will miss the camaraderie with his players in the locker room and interacting with the other coaches on a daily basis.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” he said. “I’m glad I’ve had a great run, but it’s time to voyage into the unknown now. I’m going into uncharted waters. I have hobbies that I enjoy, but I’ve also worked my entire life, and now I don’t have that to look forward to in the morning. It’s going to be a little bit different, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.”