Some important organizational changes were made at the PAL Junior Islanders Hockey Club over the past few days.
First, Will Bodine has moved from the USPHL Elite team to the U14 program. He'll be joined on the bench by assistant coaches Radek Martinek and Doug Weight, both former NHL players. Bodine has coached many of these players in the past, and has a comfort level with them that the organization feels is very important.
"The reorganization of the coaching staff creates depth from the U14 level through Premier," Coach Bodine noted. "Our goal is to create a program where the majority of our players are local boys and to do so we need to develop from within. This movement allows the organization to really solidify that model and get the process started in the right direction."
"Will having worked with these players in the past is huge, and he's already shown he can develop talent here," said Director of Scouting & Recruiting Pete Judge. "This is all part of creating a pipeline. Our goal is to move players within the organization from the bottom to the top."
Replacing Bodine at the Elite level will be Ed Galiani, who served as Head Coach of the USPHL Premier team last season. Under Galiani's guidance, the Premier squad finished 27-19-4, tied for 4th place in the league. Galiani will be joined on the bench by Louis Liotti, the former Northeastern University standout who has joined the PAL Junior Islanders after a successful professional career in Europe. Galiani will also have former Premier Junior Islander and Windsor Spitfire Stephen Alonge assisting on the ice.
"Having Ed taking over the Elite team is big for us," General Manager Ron Kinnear said, "He has a great track record and knows what it takes to win at the Premier level. He'll be the perfect fit to help this group of Elite players develop into Premier players and beyond."
Mr. Kinnear reiterated that the two teams would be working closely together, and that Galiani would still be working with the Premier team during the season. With the USPHL schedule, the two teams will train, practice, and do much of their traveling together.
"It's important to have continuity in the coaching staff, and Dan and I have worked together for so long that it just makes sense," Galiani said of his new position. "All this does is strengthen the organization. We'll be running the same system and teaching the same style of hockey from U14 up through Premier."
Dan Marshall, who served as the Associate Head Coach will take over as Head Coach of the Premier team. Marshall has previously served as Head Coach of the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and is well-known as one of the top coaches in the region. Mark Dubeau will remain as an assistant to Coach Marshall.
Head Coach Bob Thornton and Assistant Coach Tony Samms will remain in charge of the U18 side. Thornton and Samms, who also work with the Elite Hockey Group, were brought in earlier this Spring. At the U16 National level, Aleksey Nikiforov will continue his role as Head Coach with Rudy Sulmote filling the role of Assistant Coach. The U16 American team will be headed by Dave Cross, with Rob Keating as his Assistant Coach.
The PAL Junior Islanders believe that the organization has taken a huge step in the right direction with these changes, and are excited to hit the ice.