After a tremendous season last year as the assistant coach for the Castlegar Rebels, Jesse Dorrans commences his inaugural season as head coach for the KIJHL champions.
The new Rebel head coach is now manning the helm of the club replacing Steve Junker who is moving on after three seasons as coach of the Castlegar Rebels.
Dorrans has lost three of the premier forwards in the Kootenay International League, with the graduation of Stewart Walton, and the trades of Jamie Vlanich and Travis Wellman to Nelson. Collectively these three forwards accounted for 55 of the 333 goals the Rebels scored last season.
So where will the goals come from this time around?
“I think it’s going to be more of a score-by-committee team again,” Dorrans said on Sept. 3. “Obviously, losing those three top guys is big for any team. I feel with the returning guys and the guys coming in, everybody is going to have a bigger role this season.
“That’s where guys who didn’t have such a big role last season get a chance to step up and see what they can do.”
It appears that Dorrans and the Rebels will have the core of their coaching staff (Darcy Martini, and Bruno Tassone) back this season.
“Getting these guys assisting me behind the bench has been critical in past seasons for the success of the Rebels”, said Dorrans. These guys see things that I can’t always see during our games and practices and that helps our players adjust and work on this stuff during the season. It’s this attention to detail that contributes to our team success and to graduating as many players as possible to higher levels in their hockey careers.”
In the past four seasons the Rebels have moved over 13 players to NCAA or Jr A teams.
Dorrans and the Rebels are now moving into their exhibition season against local rivals Nelson and Beaver Valley, with the first regular season home game on Saturday Sept. 7 against Beaver Valley and Tuesday Sept. 10 against Nelson.
“It’s shaping up to be a good team,” said the head coach. “We had a good mix of returning guys and new guys at camp. It’s showing a lot of promise. I think we’ll be very competitive, much like we were last season.”
Last season, the Rebels finished 35-9-8, good for first place in the Neil Murdoch Division. Then in the playoffs the Rebels beat Spokane in five games, Beaver Valley bowed out in the second round of playoffs, losing in seven games to the Rebels. The Rebels swept Golden in 4 games and won the KIJHL championship against North Okanagan in five games.
Dorrans said he’s looking for the veterans such as Aaron Brewer, Cody Disher, and Aaron Petten to lead the team this year with a strong contingent of returning veterans. “I think our fans will be pleased with the team we field this year, as we have some strong returning veterans, and some impressive new players gained through trades entering the line-up. These new players include Derek Georgopoulos, one of Fernie’s leading scorers last season, as well as proven veterans, Dallon Stoddart and Seth Schmidt, obtained from Nelson over the summer.
“I think we will be competitive and with some late additions we can make those final adjustments we need to get us where we want to be,” forecasted Dorrans.
“I’m very happy with the way things are going so far,” he said. “The tempo has been good in our practices and I’m excited to get into some exhibition games and get the season underway.”
JUST NOTES: The first home regular season game is on Friday, Sept. 13, vs. the Nelson Leafs, Saturday Sept. 14 vs. the Grand Forks Border Bruins and Sunday Sept. 15 vs. the Kimberley Dynamiters. All games have a 7:30 p.m. start.