Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ new head coach Matt Hughes visits the Dawg Pound on May 9, 2017, during a whirlwind trip to Port Alberni. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

BCHL: Bulldogs get first look at new coach

Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ new head coach Matt Hughes’ first order of business will be to hire a new assistant coach and trainer.

Hughes made a whirlwind visit to the Alberni Valley last Tuesday to meet the Port Alberni Junior Hockey Society board and some billet families before heading to Boston on a scouting mission.

“I’m looking forward to a great season and making this team a destination for players,” Hughes said. “I think this community deserves the best we can possibly give them.”

After introducing Hughes, Port Alberni Junior Hockey Society (PAJHS) president Ron Paulson announced that assistant coach Alex Evin had tendered his resignation. “Alex has decided he is going to pursue other interests,” including finishing his teaching degree, Paulson said.

Athletic trainer JT Ward also announced he is leaving the team. “The BC Hockey League, for guys like him, is just a stepping stone,” said Paulson, adding they had someone else in mind to take over the position from Ward.

He said Hughes will start interviewing candidates for the assistant coach’s position in the near future.

Former head coach Kevin Willison, meanwhile, is headed to Okotoks, AB where he is coaching a new AAA Midget team. “They’re bringing him in to develop the program,” Paulson said.

The move brings Willison closer to family members in Calgary, Paulson added..

ICE CHIPS…The recruiting process for a new head coach was “unique”, Paulson said. “We had 142 coaching resumés. There were phenomenal decisions we had to make. When you got down to the top 20 it was easy, but that Top 20 was difficult.”…What put Hughes at the top of the list were his references, Paulson added…The Bulldogs will hold a bigger event for sponsors and the public to meet Hughes once he is settled in his new home, director of sales, marketing and game night Jolie McMullan said.