Kevin Willison, top right, has been let go as coach of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs after six years. Alex Evin, top left, will take over coaching duties until a new head coach can be found. SUSIE QUINN PHOTO

Kevin Willison, top right, has been let go as coach of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs after six years. Alex Evin, top left, will take over coaching duties until a new head coach can be found. SUSIE QUINN PHOTO

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs fire coach Kevin Willison

Willison was with the team since 2011

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs have fired head coach Kevin Willison.

“The decision to release Willison was made after much deliberation and consideration of the best interests of the B.C. Hockey League team going forward,” the team noted in a press release sent out Thursday evening.

“Kevin has served both this team and our community with all his heart and we did not come to this decision easily,” says Port Alberni Junior Hockey Society (PAJHS) president Ron Paulson. “We will miss his character and gritty determination that was reflected in the teams he put on the ice.”

The Bulldogs, which are run by a society, let go assistant coach and general manager Adam Hayduk in May 2016. Willison and associate coach Alex Evin led the team to a 16-32-7-3 record in 58 regular season games in 2016-17; the Bulldogs missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012, and finished third last in the BCHL.

During Willison’s tenure as Head Coach/GM the Bulldogs made the playoff in four of the five years, including winning the Coastal Division playoffs in 2013.

“Both Bobbi and I have truly enjoyed our time here in Alberni,” Willison said in the team’s press release. “We would like to thank all of the fans and people in the community for their hospitality and friendship over the past five years.”

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs will start recruiting for a new head coach immediately. Evin will be supervising hockey operations until a new head coach is signed, according to the team.