PEORIA — Mood today: A little bittersweet.
The Peoria Rivermen have lost a terrific member of their front office.
Life moves on, and so is Andrew Cohen, who has resigned from his position as director of business development with the SPHL Rivermen and is moving with his wife and child to Texas, where there is family and a new job for both.
Cohen will be the new equipment manager for a junior hockey team, the Lone Star Brahmas of the NAHL, in North Richland Hills, Texas.
"I will always feel like I'm part of the Rivermen organization, and may even try to help them sell a little via remote," Cohen said. "But my wife and I both have new opportunities waiting in Texas and we need to be there.
"I can't say enough how much it means to me that (Rivermen co-owner) Bart Rogers trusted me, believed in me and gave me a chance to move from the team's bench to its front office.
"My front office colleagues are fantastic and I learned so much from them. I learned in this job, grew so much. To say I'll miss it is an understatement.
"I want to thank all our business sponsors -- it’s crucial for the team that they continues to support us. And the fans, just terrific to be with."
Cohen, 32, had an inspiring journey with the Rivermen, coming to the team as its equipment manager in its inaugural SPHL season of 2013-14. A year later he was SPHL Equipment Manager of the Year. He rose to a successful front office position.
"Andrew had a work ethic that was inspiring," Rivermen head coach Jean-Guy Trudel said. "You have to be hungry, love the game, respect the people around you, and he had all those qualities.
"He was devoted to our organization and we will miss him."
Cohen served as the head equipment manager for the Texas Tornado of the NAHL before joining the Rivermen. In 2012-2013 he served as an equipment assistant with the NHL's Dallas Stars in addition to his duties with the Tornado.
With the Brahmas, he will handle the equipment duties and also work in sales for the front office.
In Peoria, Cohen moved to the front office in 2016 and became a sales force. Not only did he ring up big numbers for the team's sales effort, he put together things like the outdoor youth hockey festival downtown, and acted as an ambassador for the team in the community.
Tireless, he'd work in sales by day and be there at every game at night, helping in game operations, hanging out in the coach's office and forging friendships on press row.
There isn't a corner of the operation where he won't be missed. The Brahmas don't yet know how lucky they are.
"It was a thrill to watch Andrew gain skills and grow in the job and have success," Rogers said. "I was honored to serve as mentor, teacher, and we loved having him here. We wish him well as he takes on the next chapter of his life."
Guys like Cohen are among those invisible parts of a minor-league sports organization that often go unnoticed and underappreciated.
But the team wouldn't have success without people like him. Every game, with four minutes left, he’d drop in on press row to collect Three Stars of the Game from me.
He didn't skate, didn't score a game-winning goal or make a spectacular save. But over the years, his value to the team was deserving of a No. 1.
Good luck, friend.
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.