The Red Deer Vipers Junior B hockey club has decided to part ways with head coach Fred Jones.
Jones was hired in June 2022 prior to the start of the Heritage Junior Hockey League season but after a disappointing finish to the 2022-23 campaign, the team felt it was time for a change.
“We thank Fred for the time and effort that he put in,” said director of hockey operations Brady Sim. “There’s no doubt at all on our end that we got a full effort from him and for everything he did.”
Prior to his time as Vipers head coach, Jones coached in Red Deer Minor Hockey for 10 years and was a former Vipers player. He took over the role from former head coach Kyle Scott who coached the team for two years.
Sim added Jones is not only a good coach but a great man. The decision was fuelled by a ‘multitude of factors that led to the Vipers wanting a fresh start.
“It’s always a tough decision when you have to do something like this and it’s not a decision you make lightly,” Sim said.
The process of finding a new coach is well underway and they have a list of individuals they hope to pursue but will also be accepting applications.
Red Deer finished fifth in the HJHL northern division with a record of 12-24-2. In the qualifying round to make the postseason in February, the Vipers were knocked out in a best-of-three series against the Rocky Mountain House Rams. Following the end of their season, the Vipers saw it as a disappointment.
“Last year was very disappointing. We didn’t think the roster we had was a 12-24-2 roster. Even if we return everybody, I’d say our goal is to be competitive. Our goal is to be competing for the north division title and for ultimately an HJHL Championship.”
Sim explained they expect a big portion of the team to be back next year but do have a handful of players trying out for Junior A clubs.
“We encourage that and we wish them all the best. At this time we’re anticipating a large group back and a good mix of younger kids too,” Sim said.
The Vipers will hold their spring camp either at the end of April or at the beginning of May and encourage those interested to keep an eye on upcoming dates.