The Battlefords North Stars are on the search for a new coach with the announcement Kevin Hasselberg is moving on to the professional level.
Hasselberg will be behind the bench in Florida as the new Head Coach of the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) after five years with the North Stars.
As coach of the North Stars, Hasselberg had a 174-84-10-14 record since joining the team in the 2011-12 season and took home the SJHL’s coach of the year award this past season.
Hasselberg said it will be tough leaving the Battlefords and the North Stars after five years because of the community and the connections he has made.
“This organization treats people right and they do things right. Because of that, that’s why the team has had such good success and players have moved on,” Hasselberg said. “Now obviously I’m getting the chance to do that with my career. So there’s amazing people here that are all in to help.”
The Ice Flyers go into the 2016-17 SPHL season as the defending champions after sweeping the Peoria Rivermen in the five game President's Cup championship series. It was a dramatic ending as Pensacola forward Josh Cousineau scored the winning goal with under a second to go in the third period of game three, giving the Ice Flyers their third SPHL championship in four years.
Pensacola’s previous coach, Rod Aldoff, was hired by the Norfolk Admirals of the ECHL.
Hasselberg said during meetings with the ownership of the Ice Flyers, he found the team shared the same core values he did as a coach.
“It’s all about player development and helping these young players get to the next level, really focusing on them as hockey players and them as people. They want to surround themselves with good people that have strong character,” he said.
With the move to Pensacola, Hasselberg is trading in the farmer’s fields of Saskatchewan for the sandy beaches of Florida and he said it’s a place where hockey has taken hold of the community with a dedicated fanbase.
“I’ve talked to a couple players now and both of them expressed excitement about the fans and the support that the community has for the Ice Flyers and the hockey team. When you’re getting that from players that played there or have the opportunity to play there, it just makes it that much more exciting,” Hasselberg said.
North Stars President Troy Slywka said it’s tough to lose Hasselberg and the team wishes him luck.
“It’s been a fantastic time with Kevin here. The young men that have graduated from our program have all been very successful thanks to the contributions coach Hasselberg has provided with the Battlefords North Stars. He’s going to be a tough person to replace,” Slywka said.
Slywka added the Board of Directors is moving forward on finding a replacement for Hasselberg.
“It’s going to be an interesting and difficult process to replace him. I anticipate seeing some really good applications come through, but like I said it’s going to be tough to replace somebody (with) the character and quality Kevin brought to the organization,” Slywka said.
Hasselberg will remain with the team until Aug. 25.
Matt Kelly is battlefordsNOW's town municipal affairs and community reporter. He can be reached at [email protected].
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