From Bulldogs to Bolts

Two Ferris alums find success in the National Hockey League

Graphic by: Dylan Bowden | Production Manager

The Stanley Cup is regarded by some as the hardest trophy to win, but Derek Lalonde and Brian Garlock have won it— twice. In back-to-back fashion.

Garlock worked with Ferris Athletics and Lalonde was an assistant coach for the hockey team. Now, they both work with the Tampa Bay Lightning: reigning NHL champions.

On Feb 19, Garlock brought the Stanley Cup back to Big Rapids for the community to see. Ferris hockey head coach Bob Daniels and the hockey team were able to view the cup after the showing had concluded.

“Well, I know for the guys, they were thrilled,” Daniels said. “You know, many of them maybe have seen [the Stanley Cup] at the Hockey Hall of Fame, but I think very few have seen it that close and been able to touch it and look at it.”

Garlock’s climb to video coordinator for the Lightning began at Ferris.

“[I was] driving the Zamboni and knew I could work because I was going to be around all summer, and they always needed people in the summer,” Garlock said. “That was the segue to actually not just being the Zamboni guy when the [Texarkana] Bandits were in town, but actually meeting and getting to know Jon Cooper.”

Garlock met Cooper, the current head coach of the Lightning, while the Texarkana Bandits, now the Minnesota Wilderness, of the NAHL came up to Ferris and held their training camp.

Garlock joined Cooper when the Bandits moved to St. Louis in the 2006-07 season. Garlock and Cooper climbed the league ladder, working for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL and then the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL, the Lightning’s AHL affiliate.

During the 2013-14 season, Cooper was hired as the head coach of the Lightning. Garlock was brought up as the video coordinator the next season.

“I’d say it’s one of the best, if not the best, franchises and all-pro sports,” Garlock said. “I think our ownership group is incredible at just making sure we have the resources we need and giving us the support we need to succeed.”

In the last ten years, the Lightning made eight Stanley Cup playoffs and three finals, with two championships.

“It’s extremely gratifying when you finally get over the mountain,” Garlock said. “It’s the sense of relief that everything we’ve been working towards was actually right. It’s relief and it’s validation that you were on the right path the whole time.”

Lalonde, who is currently in an assistant coach position with the Lightning, also felt relief.

“It’s not the old days where you can keep a team together,” Lalonde said “We knew we were in a window, and we wanted to try to maximize it. And I think winning that first one was probably kind of a relief, feeling that we got it done with the quality core we had.”

“Going to Ferris was my first opportunity to be a full time [coach],” Lalonde said. “That’s probably the crossroads. I was just very fortunate. When I came here, we were able to win our first CCHA championship with the Chris Kunitz team. And at the time, that was really special. We’ve never won [the championship]. I think we’d only had maybe three or four winning seasons prior to that. [It was] always a respectable program.”

The last Bulldog to win the Stanley cup was Kunitz with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.

Following Ferris, Lalonde went to the University of Denver as an assistant coach. He then climbed the league ladder and took on a head coaching role with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. He kept his status as a head coach when he went to the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL and soon after the Iowa Wild of the AHL. After two years in Iowa, Lalonde got a call from Cooper.

“In 2018, Tampa Bay lost to Washington in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals. Jon Cooper actually called me the very next morning, and he said, ‘We’re going to make some changes on our staff. Is this something you’d be interested in?’” Lalonde said.

Lalonde initially declined the offer. However, when the Iowa Wild general manager was fired, Lalonde received another call from Cooper and he accepted the job.

Garlock has been with the Lightning for nine years now, and Lalonde has been with them for four. Both are still very grateful for Ferris.

“It means a great deal,” Daniels said. “If we played a small part in Lalonde’s development, I take great pride in that.”

Both Lalonde and Garlock’s time at Ferris may have been quick in the bigger picture. However, both will forever be Bulldogs.