Thursday, May 3, 2007

NMU narrows search for new assistant coach

The Mining Journal's Pete Pietrangelo has a story in today's paper concerning candidates to replace John Olver as the next assistant hockey coach. The article was brief bios on each coach can be read below.

Search for NMU hockey assistant may take time

As the headline suggests, the 'Cats are taking their time. The summer is not prime recruiting time therefore the hire does not need to be made ASAP.

Here are the candidates for the job:

- Scott Beattie, head coach, Kimberley Dynamiters (KIJHL)
- Joe Shawhan, assistant coach, Lake Superior State
- Jim Hiller, head coach, Chilliwack Bruins (WHL)
- Bruno Campese, head coach, Penticton Vees (BCHL)
- Steve Hamilton, head coach, Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)

My two favorites out of the bunch are Shawhan and Campese strictly because of their goaltending background. The Wildcats have not had a goaltending coach for quite some time and it did not bite them until recently because they were blessed by the natural ability of Craig Kowalski and Tuomas Tarkki. Bill Zaniboni was average for the Wildcats the past two years and I say that because some nights he was great, other nights he got blown up.

Zaniboni, and even Kowalski and Tarkki, could have greatly benefited from a goalie coach, or at least an assistant with a netminder's background. With young keepers like Derek Janzen and Brian Stewart not coming up in the program, an assistant with a goaltending background is key.

Hiller would also be a dream hire but good luck pulling him away from Chilliwack and the WHL. Of course, I also joined Dave Danis in saying that about Olver and look what happened there. Olver and Dave Shyiak were strong recruiters and the next person will have to be of the same caliber. Hiller would be that kind of person.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Mark Olver signs, others follow

Mark Olver, the son of recently departed NMU assistant coach John Olver, has signed a National Letter of Intent to play hockey at Northern Michigan University.

Mark played last season with the Omaha Lancers (USHL) and picked up 30 goals and 35 assists in 61 games to lead the team in both categories. Mark will be looked to, much like his older brother Darin was, to spur some offensive production for NMU, something that they lacked last season.

Also signing NLIs were Andrew Fernandez and Eric Spady.

Fernandez is a defenseman from the Selkirk Steelers of the MJHL. Last season he scored 14 goals and tacked on 34 assists, both good numbers for a defenseman. With the departure of Bobby Selden and Matt Maunu, Fernandez will likely see some time at the blue line for the 'Cats.

Spady is the youngest recruit, with an '89 birthday, and is a defenseman from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL). In 56 games last season he scored 10 goals and picked up 34 assists. He will hopefully contribute as well, but with his young age, don't be surprised if he doesn't play much, or possibly not at all, during his first year.

The newly signed NLIs improve the NMU outlook for next season, and it must feel good to get Mark Olver's signature, despite his dad's recent departure to pro hockey.

According to one source, the only outstanding scholarship offer is to Andrew Cherniwchan, a forward from Drayton Valley (AJHL). He is commonly listed as an '08 recruit, but it seems that NMU has offered him the choice to play NCAA hockey this year.