GLENS FALLS, NY – The 2022-23 ECHL season is set to begin, and it is one marked by major coaching changes across the league. Several teams will see new coaching staffs behind their benches this season, with every division affected.
The North Division will see the most “new” faces, with a total of four new head coaches and five new assistant coaches.
With the departure of head coach Alex Loh, the Adirondack Thunder took on an entirely new coaching staff. Former Thunder forward (and last season’s captain) Pete MacArthur took on the head coaching duties and chose a new assistant in Mike Bergin. Bergin, who replaces Pete Dineen, is also a former Thunder player.
The Maine Mariners will also have a former Adirondack player behind the bench this season, as Terrence Wallin transitions from assistant to head coach. Former head coach Ben Guite has moved on to Bowdoin College, where he will be the head coach. Johnny McInnis will take over Wallin’s former role.
In Reading, yet another former Thunder player is making the move from assistant to head coach. With Kirk MacDonald moving on to the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL, James Henry takes over the head coaching duties for the Royals. Jason Binkley takes over as assistant coach.
Like MacArthur in Adirondack, the Worcester Railers’ new head coach is transitioning from captain to head coach of his team. After leading the Railers on the scoresheet last season, Jordan Smotherman will be leading his team from behind the bench this season. He replaces David Cunniff, whom the Railers parted ways with in June. Jimmy Sharrow replaces Jason Franzone as assistant coach.
In Norfolk, Jeff Carr takes over the assistant coaching position. He replaces Ryan McGinnis, who is now coaching the Tri-State Spartans of the NAPHL. Rod Taylor is staying on as head coach.
Thanks to the addition of a new team, the South Division will see a total of five new coaches (two head coaches and three assistants).
The Savannah Ghost Pirates are the new kids on the block. Longtime Union College head coach Rick Bennett was chosen to lead the Ghost Pirates in their inaugural season. Former Adirondack head coach Loh becomes the team’s first assistant coach.
The Orlando Solar Bears are replacing Drake Berehowsky as head coach. Matt Carkner, who had spent five seasons as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers assistant coach from 2016-2021, takes over. Berehowsky’s assistant coach, Jared Staal, has earned a promotion to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers, where he will serve as assistant coach. AHL veteran Ben Holmstrom begins his coaching career as Staal’s replacement.
In Greenville, Mason Baptista replaces Phillip Barski as the Swamp Rabbits’ assistant coach. Barski is now the assistant coach of the OHL’s Barrie Colts. Andrew Lord remains Greenville’s head coach.
In the Central Division, the Kalamazoo Wings and Iowa Heartlanders have seen promotions within their coaching staffs, while the Indy Fuel have replaced their assistant coach.
Former Kalamazoo head coach Nick Bootland has taken on the role of the Hershey Bears’ assistant coach. His former assistant coach, Joel Martin, transitions to head coach. Kohl Schultz and Ben Wilson will share the assistant coaching duties.
The Iowa Heartlanders are seeing their second head coach in as many seasons. With Gerry Fleming heading overseas to take a head coaching position in Germany, Derek Damon makes the move from assistant to head coach of the Heartlanders. Former Ohio State and Michigan State assistant coach Joe Exter becomes Iowa’s associate coach.
In Indy, Kevin Moore takes over the assistant coaching role as Cole Bell moves on to become an assistant coach at Stevenson University in Maryland. Duncan Dalmao remains the Fuel head coach.
The Mountain Division is seeing the fewest changes with only one team bringing on a new coaching staff. The Allen Americans lost longtime head coach Steve Martinson when he decided to pursue a new venture outside of hockey. Former Allen captain Chad Costello begins his coaching career as Martinson’s replacement. Another former Americans player, Aaron Gens, takes over as assistant coach. He replaces Christopher Meriney.
Of these teams’ new coaches, all but four have seen playing time in the ECHL. Those four are Orlando’s Carkner, Norfolk’s Carr, Savannah’s Loh, and Kalamazoo’s Schultz.
- Allen Americans Blog Author Barry Janssen
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