The final vacant coaching position in minor professional hockey has been filled. Pensacola Ice Flyers owner Greg Harris completed his two-month search today by announcing that he has found his man in SJHL Coach of the Year Kevin Hasselberg. Hasselberg comes to the Ice Flyers as a long-time junior hockey coach in Canada, most recently with the Battlefords (SK) North Stars, compiling a 174-84-24 record over the past five seasons. Hasselberg was named the SJHL coach of the year in 2016 after guiding the North Stars to the SJHL’s best record, despite falling in the semifinals.
Hasselberg goes into the highly coveted Ice Flyers job with high expectations. He succeeds Rod Aldoff, winner of two Presidents Cups in his three-year tenure before moving on to the ECHL Norfolk Admirals. The new Pensacola bench boss will have to maintain the Flyers’ winning tradition, inheriting an extremely talented team despite the retirements of team captain Adam Pawlick, Joe Holka, and Ryan Kesti.
The new Ice Flyers coach is not entirely unfamiliar with the SPHL – he coached Huntsville Havoc forward Jeremy Beirnes during his time with the AJHL Olds (AB) Grizzlies. From his interview with the Battlefords News-Optimist, Hasselberg states “My goal is to one day make it to the NHL and this is an opportunity to start in the professional ranks. In my dealings with the owner, Greg Harris, the way he feels about the game, how it should be played and how the players conduct themselves jived with how I approach things.”
From the Ice Flyers press release, Ice Flyers owner Greg Harris commented, “I’m very excited about the new chapter we’re about to begin with Kevin leading our team. Everyone I talked to about him said the he’s a true pro, and after spending a lot of time with him on the phone and in person, it was clear to see how well he fits into our culture here in Pensacola.”
“I take great pride in developing players to be successful at the next level, and this will continue in Pensacola.” Hasselberg stated. “My focus is to win, to get good people here representing the Ice Flyers organization and the city of Pensacola, and to develop and promote our players.”
Coach Hasselberg will make his professional coaching debut with the Ice Flyers on October 21st against the Fayetteville FireAntz at the Hangar.