The Orlando Solar Bears have selected the coach who will lead the team onto the ice in less than four months, and he's Drake Berehowsky, who comes to the City Beautiful and the Amway Center after three years as an assistant coach with the AHL's Peoria Rivermen.
|New Solar Bears' Coach Drake Berehowsky|
His hockey pedigree is without question. Berehowsky, 40, played 549 NHL games and 22 playoff games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes from 1990-2004. A tough and rugged defenseman, he accumulated 149 points (37 goals, 112 assists) and 848 penalty minutes.
While he has no head coaching experience, he has served as an assistant in Peoria and ) with the Barrie Colts and Brampton Battalion of the major junior level Ontario Hockey League. He is currently completing his Level 2 Coaching Certification from Hockey Canada
Berehowsky will oversee the Solar Bears hockey operations and will be responsible for coaching the team, recruiting players, working with the Minnesota Wild/Houston Aeros (Orlando's NHL/AHL affiliates), and supporting the Solar Bears youth hockey initiatives.
It's obvious he got the job because the Solar Bears' brass loves him. Here's some quotes from the team's press release this afternoon:
Managing Partner Jason Siegel: "Drake's positive energy and enthusiasm is infectious. We expect our team to take on his personality and drive. Our fans are really going to enjoy getting to know him."
Managing Partner Bob Ohrablo: "Drake possesses all of the traits we are looking for in our Head Coach. He was an aggressive, hard-nosed NHL defenseman with a long playing career, a successful assistant coach and a student of the game. Drake has certainly demonstrated a passion for winning."
Chairman Joe Haleski: "Throughout his playing career he was a feared opponent on the ice and a leader in the dressing room."
From the coach's own mouth: "I am proud to take the reigns in Orlando and look forward to building a winning organization. We will recruit players that possess the skill and heart to win on the ice and that want to be involved in the community off the ice. I want players that aspire to win the ECHL's Kelly Cup while in Orlando and the NHL's Stanley Cup in the future."
Berehowsky has five children ages 1 to 6 with his wife Lori.
Expect the team to open its training camp and hold free agent camps in late September, as the roster begins to come together. Opening Night is Oct. 13 in Fort Myers against the reigning Kelly Cup champion Florida Everblades. The 'Blades come to play in the Solar Bears' home opener at the Amway Center on Oct. 20.