BANFF – There's a new bench boss for the Banff Hockey Academy (BHA) Bears' male prep team, indicating the student-athlete academy is moving into a new direction for next season.
Evan Vossen, new head coach for the older boys team, is one of BHA’s “next generation” transitions – bringing in a former student-athlete accustomed to the on-and-off ice grind.
“For a lot of the kids, regardless where they’re from, it’s getting to that next level,” said Vossen. “So to get in that routine for time management for academics and hockey, so as they get older it becomes more natural and that’s going to be beneficial for them.
“That academic side and standpoint, you know, sometimes I think gets overlooked … with the academy, especially with the prep school league, that becomes the main focus and that’s something I was pretty passionate about when I was a student-athlete and to give back in that sense it made it a good fit.”
Vossen relates to what the high school aged players at BHA will go through during this stage. The forward played Junior A in Saskatchewan and is a former captain of the McGill University, where he lead the team to a CIS National Championship in 2012. After McGill, Vossen went on to play three years of professional hockey in the East Coast Hockey League and Central Hockey League.
After his competitive playing days ended, Vossen coached the LaRonge Ice Wolves in the Saskatchewan Junior A hockey League before joining BHA.
Vossen said he’s looking forward to taking on new challenges with the program that has many international students join its ranks.
“It’s been tough from a record standpoint, the last couple of seasons with the program and I think that’s the biggest challenge in terms of just finding the kids that are the right fit,” Vossen said. “It becomes a bit of a process in kind of building a foundation that way and having some of the values and those strengths that are really rock solid before we get too far ahead of us.”
Vossen replaces Bill Doherty as the bench boss for the male prep team. Doherty, BHA co-founder and president, will remain a mentor for coaches and players of each of the Bears' three teams – male prep, male varsity and female prep – which compete in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League.
“Evan checked off a lot of boxes for us in terms of wanting a coach with a strong academic profile, [and] was a captain of university team, so he really understands the student-athlete life and he understands being a leader inside the student-athlete life, so all that stuff is really important to us,” Doherty said.
“Behind the scenes, we’ve always kind of worked together with the coaching, so that will remain the spirit.”
At #Banff Hockey Academy, it's not just about the hockey. We love to see students confidence grow both on and off the ice and we're thrilled to be able to help build lifelong friendships with so many athletes. 🏒 #hockeylife pic.twitter.com/vq49PjEYW1— Banff Hockey Academy (@BanffHockey) July 31, 2019
Doherty added that following the organization’s 25th anniversary season last year, BHA “shuffled the deck” with its staff.
Vossen is one of the first moves in a pivotal transitional season at BHA, which is in the process of looking for an associate coach for its female prep team following the departure of former coach Mikko Makela.
Andy Boudreau, who’s been with the BHA as a player development coach, is taking over duties as varsity coach. Boudreau has a student-athlete background at the post-secondary level and coaching is in his blood as his father is Bruce Boudreau, head coach of the NHL's Minnesota Wild.
“We’re trying to make our program have that the staff we have really understand the importance of the academic component that we’re doing here,” Doherty said.