Kevin Hasselberg Named Ice Flyers Head Coach
When the Southern Professional Hockey League opens the 2016-17 season in October, a new head coach will be behind the bench for the Pensacola Ice Flyers.
Kevin Hasselberg takes over for Rod Aldoff, who is now coaching the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals. Hasselberg is a native of Brooks, Alberta and has spent the last five seasons as coach and general manager of the Battlefords North Stars in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
“The reputation that the Ice Flyers organization and certainly [Owner] Greg Harris has earned in that franchise,” said Hasselberg. “How they treat people and the types of players they look for. It’s all exciting and sets things up to be successful moving forward.
Under Hasselberg last season, the North Stars won the regular season title, and lost in the semi-finals of the playoffs. He was named the SJHL’s Coach of the Year. Ice Flyers owner Greg Harris sifted through about 40 applications for the head coaching post.
So, what drew him to Hasselberg?
“His approach definitely impressed me,” said Harris. “How he approaches studying the game, how he approaches the promotion and development of players. He’s a down-to-earth, quieter guy, but can flip that intensity switch when times are needed.”
One vital area which worked in Hasselberg’s favor, says Harris, is recruiting, given his strong ties to a number of colleges, and the Ice Flyers connections with its two immediate past coaches.
“With Rod [Aldoff] up in Norfolk and Gary Graham in Fort Wayne, now we have two former coaches up at the next level [ECHL],” Harris said. “They’re going to be a tremendous source of information in being able to help recruit as well.”
Speaking of Aldoff and Graham, the latter winning the first President’s Cup in 2013 , another area Harris points to are the shoes, err, skates, the new coach has to fill: three President’s Cups in the past four seasons.
“Absolutely. And he knows it and I’ve told him that,” said Harris. “But that’s a welcome pressure, because that’s a better pressure to have than the very faint pressure of ‘Hey, I just hope we make the playoffs.’”
When it comes to going out and signing players, Kevin Hasselberg says there are both similarities and differences at the amateur junior level, compared to the professional ranks.
“Recruiting at the [amateur] level you’re still meeting with the teenagers and dealing a lot with the families of the players,” Hasselberg said. “The players I’m going to be fortunate to coach now [in Pensacola] are professionals. We’re dealing with adults now.”
One common thread between amateur and pro players, says Hasselberg, is that all of them want to improve their hockey skills to get them to the next level.
The Ice Flyers open the season Friday, October 21 at home against Fayetteville.