KMHA has its Tier 1 coaches

Hockey season is right around the corner, and the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association has named the head coaches for its three Tier 1 teams.

The KMHA held a news conference Tuesday to introduce the coaches - Kyle Allan will lead the peewee Jardine's Blazers, with Mark Chase in charge of the bantam Jardine's Blazers and Randy Struch coaching the midget North Kamloops Lions.

Each of those teams will begin tryouts next week, with the Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association regular seasons not scheduled to open until October.

Chase, though only 26, has been involved in coaching minor hockey for 10 years. He started coaching when he quit playing the game, but took off last season to work as a scout for the WHL's Prince George Cougars.

"I found that I really missed coaching, so here I am," said Chase, who also will work as video coach for the TRU WolfPack hockey team. "My passion lies with coaching . . . it's fun and it's rewarding."

Allan, meanwhile, also is a veteran of the KMHA coaching circles, and also has some history with the WolfPack.

The 29-year-old, who played for the WolfPack the past two seasons, has coached the bantam Tier 1 and midget Tier 1 teams in the past.

Even heading into his first season as head coach of a younger group, Allan doesn't plan to change his philosophy.

"Kids are going to make mistakes," he said. "You've got to look at the difference between what's an honest mistake and what's an effort mistake. That's pretty big for me.

"If the effort's there and mistakes are happening, those are teachable things."

Struch is back coaching after taking five years off.

He originally had coached his son, Adam, throughout his early years, but Randy stepped away after Adam's first year of peewee.

"I decided to back away a bit," said Randy, who played junior A before playing four seasons at Colorado College. "I wanted him to experience other coaching, and I think it was great for him.

"But I really enjoy coaching, and I have a passion for it."

He was looking for an opportunity to get back behind the bench in Adam's final season of minor hockey, and it came up. Randy has a pretty good idea of what he expects from the players.

"I'm going to be very defined in terms of accountability," he said. "I like to run a disciplined program. The kids know what's expected of them - I expect them to be good citizens and good players."

As for on-ice expectations, Struch isn't so sure where to start. The Lions likely will have players returned from junior teams and the major-midget Thompson Blazers, so it's hard for Struch to identify what type of team he'll have.

"Like everyone else, with the major midgets, and the (hockey) academies and junior B, we have to wait," Struch said. "We're a lot like a junior program, in that we have to wait and see what comes back."

The bantams are coming off back-to-back solid seasons, in which Kamloops won the OMAHA title twice and made the semifinals at the Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament both times.

Chase, who coached the peewee Tier 1 team two seasons ago, figures his bantams will be competitive.

"There are some strong players," he said. "I'll say this - the team hasn't been given a whole lot of credit skill-wise in the past, but I think that once we get the group together and start working with the boys, they'll probably turn a few heads."

Allan, like Chase, doesn't have a child playing for his team, which can be an advantage, he said.

"It helps with the players, and I think it helps with the parents, too," Allan said. "You don't have the parent aspect, where there may be some favouritism, or maybe the head coach is harder on his own kid.

"The outside perspective, at this level of hockey, is good. I don't think you can go wrong with that."

mhunter@kamloopsnews.ca

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