OLDS — The Olds Grizzlys didn’t take long to name a replacement for outgoing head coach Brett Hopfe.
The Alberta Junior Hockey League club decided to promote from within, announcing Wednesday that Dana Lattery will take over as Grizzlys head coach and director of hockey operations. Hopfe resigned from the double post last weekend.
Lattery is a former Grizzlys player who went on to play four years at the University of Western Michigan and one season of minor pro hockey. He served as a Grizzlys assistant coach for the past three and a half years.
“This decision was made following a presentation made by Mr. Lattery and his proposed coaching staff. The board feels that this is the best option moving forward to ensure continuity to the organization and the community of Olds,” the club said in a press release.
Lattery told radio station 95.5 CKFM Olds news/sports director Galen Hartviksen that he feels honoured and somewhat obligated to fill the positions.
“It’s another opportunity for me to give back to the team I took so much from during my years as a player,” said Lattery, who won the AJHL scoring title during the 1999-2000 season with 108 points, including 68 goals, in 61 games.
The new bench boss said the biggest challenge will be continuing with the culture that has been built within the dressing room over the years.
“We have to keep that going . . . get everybody to buy in and believe in themselves,” he said. “If we can get a whole community behind us our culture can remain rich and strong.”
Dustin Borbandy and Jeramie Heistad, also former Grizzlys players, will return as assistant coaches for the 2015-16 AJHL season.
“I love what they have to offer. Their commitment level is huge,” said Lattery.
The Grizzlys finished fifth in the South Division during the 2013-15 regular season and were then swept by the Drumheller Dragons in the opening round of the playoffs.
Lattery told Hartviksen that his message to the returning players will be simple.
“We need our core group of players to be back and committed 110 per cent and to understand that where we finished this season was unacceptable,” he stated.
“We also have some big prospects coming in for our spring camp (May 1-3 at the Sportsplex) and will make some key decisions going into the summer.”