Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Solar Bears name Drew Berehowsky head coach

Getting closer to Opening Night, people.

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.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jackson to return to Osceola News-Gazette

This is not what you think, those of you with overactive imaginations that work overtime.

After an eight-month hiatus from full-time reporting, I will be returning to the Osceola News-Gazette under a new publisher and editor-in-chief later this month.

The good news is I return to work with a great group of longtime colleagues who feel like friends and almost family. The only difference is I am returning as a general assignment reporter and will be covering more A-section news than I will sports or other things I covered on a regular basis in my prior ONG tenure. This positive change begins June 20.

I am honored that my work was thought of highly enough to be a (the?) prime candidate to fill a new role that opened up at the paper in the last month. Big things are in the cards at the News-Gazette, I feel, and while I've never returned to a place that let me go before, I've been assured it was a mistake and my trepidation level going back into this is low.

What does it mean for this blog? You mean, this space I haven't written in in over two weeks? Well, since I'll be reporting again but not scratching the sports itch, I figure I'll have plenty to share and will finally have the impetus to do so. For those who follow the radio show I co-host on WPRK 91.5 FM Thursdays from 4-5 p.m., the Community Sports Report, that will still be on my plate as well. Like I said, exciting times.
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