Coffee with…AV Bulldog’s head coach Paul Esdale

Alberni Valley Bulldogs head coach Paul Esdale scored some key goals in his career, but he stopped a Great One as well.

AV Bulldogs coach Paul Esdale didn't play against the Edmonton Oilers during his playing days. But he did stop a shot on Wayne Gretzky once.

In the 1980’s, every kid who played hockey’s dream was to play with Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers. The flipside of that dream was to play against Wayne Gretzky, and Alberni Valley Bulldogs head coach Paul Esdale did just that.

It was early in Esdale’s career when, as a goalie, he stopped two shots taken by the Great One.

Esdale was in his teens and playing roller hockey at the house of boyhood friend Mike Commerie, whose father Bill was friends with Gretzky. “He scored on me, he was good, but I stopped a couple – we had fun,” Esdale said.

Edmonton, Alta. was where Esdale, 32, and his two older sisters were born. His earliest memory there was being bundled up and skating on an outdoor rink at the age of two.

“I didn’t have a stick in my hand yet but I was close.”

Esdale went to Centennial Elementary School then to St. Francis Xavier High School.

His favourite course was phys-ed and his favourite teacher his phys-ed teacher – Frank Soporitio. “There were a lot of guys into hockey in his class and he related well to us,” Esdale said.

All Esdale ever wanted to be growing up was a hockey player. He did however play competitive tennis until he was 18. “It’s great for the hand-eye coordination,” he said.

After graduating from high school in 1997 he played junior hockey for one year before going on to play hockey at Brown University at Providence, Rhode Island, where he majored in business and economics.

After finishing university Esdale played pro hockey with Cincinnati in the AHL then with Florida in the ECHL.

Esdale has his own bibliography of hockey moments stored away in his memory. His first college game stands out most.

“My first shift was on the power play and I played for two minutes,” he said. “I won a bantam championship and played in Germany but playing in college was the pinnacle,” he said.

Esdale’s father Peter coached hockey and a young Paul would often help out. That experience and others paved he way for him to land his first coaching stint as an assistant with the Alberni Valley Bulldog’s in 2009. He was named head coach in 2010.

The Good Will Hunting fan doesn’t have much time for reading anything other than rosters and stats, he said. But he just finished reading Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff And It’s All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.

The best advice was ever given was “Work hard and believe in yourself and anything is possible. “My dad told me that,” Esdale said. “I’m still working on getting there.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

‘Hello, 911? There’s a horse in my living room’

Sproat Lake firefighters called to ‘rescue’ quarter-horse from Alberni Valley house

Drivers’ bad habits on Port Alberni RCMP’s radar

Seatbelt, cellphone violations handed out in distracted driving campaign

City of Port Alberni takes over McLean Mill pond project

Alberni Valley Enhancement Society received grant for work that went sideways

Vancouver Island pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Port Alberni cyclist collides with passing car

Cyclist received minor injuries

AFN national chief suggests moving Trans Mountain pipeline route

Perry Bellegarde said many Indigenous communities believe in the need to diversify export markets

Judge weighs Cosby’s sentence after declaring him ‘predator’

Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill made the decision as he weighed the punishment for Cosby

AFN national chief suggests moving Trans Mountain pipeline route

Perry Bellegarde said many Indigenous communities believe in the need to diversify export markets

U.S. worker charged after video shows him spitting on customer’s pizza

Jaylon Kerley of Detroit is charged with a felony count of food law violations

Andrew Weaver congratulates New Brunswick on electing first Green caucus

Election win means there are now three provincial Green Party caucuses in Canada

Around the BCHL: Merritt’s Matthew Kopperud nets Sun Devil scholarship

Around the BCHL is a look at the BCHL and goings-on throughout the junior A world.

Father, 9-year-old son killed in crash along B.C. highway

RCMP say family of five was hit head-on by a pickup truck north of Williams Lake

2 B.C. police departments won’t use new saliva test to detect high drivers

The Dräger DrugTest 5000 is designed to find THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana

Canada aiming for the moon, and beyond, with new space technology efforts

With an eye on future lunar exploration, Canada’s space agency is calling on companies to present their ideas for everything from moon-rover power systems to innovative mineral prospecting techniques.

Most Read