The Osoyoos Coyotes have finally announced who’ll be stepping into Ken Law’s big shoes.
Mark Chase was announced this weekend as the hockey organization’s second coach — filling the position vacated when the Coyotes released Law in April.
The Kamloops native appears to be bringing with him feet big enough to fill Law’s shoes.
Chase was an assistant coach for two seasons with the Melville Millionaires of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL). Last season, he had the additional role as the club’s Director of Sales and Marketing.
“It’s been a process but it’s good,” said Coyotes owner Randy Bedard. “We’re happy with the decision that we have here.”
Bedard said he expects Chase to be in Osoyoos later this week — where he also expects his new coach to live during the hockey season — “to take a look around and get a feel for things.”
“He’s familiar with Osoyoos. It’ll be a very inviting feel for him,” Bedard said. “He’s coming to a place where people enjoy the hockey.”
Chase’s coaching background includes all levels of minor hockey (Atom-Midget) at the AAA level. In 2009, his Peewee AAA team won the BC Provincial Championship and he won coach of the year honors with Kamloops Minor Hockey that season.
Chase, 31, also served as the head coach and manager of the BC Major Midget League’s Thompson Blazers between 2013 and 2015.
He also played an active role in the BC High-Performance U-16 program, serving as Head Coach at the U-16 BC Cup multiple times. His background also includes scouting for the Prince George Cougars in the Western Hockey League as well as the Prince George Spruce Kings in the BCHL.
Bedard said he wants his new head coach to bring some new energy and put a new brand to his hockey club.
“He’s not having to tear anything down, but he’ll be putting all the pieces together the way he wants it to be,” he said.
With the Coyotes main camp opening August 24 — a spring camp for prospects was cancelled — “putting all the pieces together’ means getting started right away.
“He’s going to get right to work. He’ll have some connections here and it’s nice that he has some BC connections and he’ll have some Saskatchewan connections, too, being from the SJ.”
Law served as the only head coach in the Coyotes’ storied eight-year existence. He guided the team to a league championship in its inaugural 2010-11 season and six regular-season Okanagan division championships and a combined 354-147-9 record over eight seasons with the Coyotes.
But the Coyotes, although reaching the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference championships five times in the following seven years, could not repeat their first-season success.
Bedard said he wants to build on that success.
“The fan base is pretty used to a good club,” he said. “All our fan base asks for is to see some competitive hockey. (But) if we have some growing pains, we’ll get through them.”
The Coyotes are expecting Brandon Watson will be back as the assistant coach, returning with Justin Price as the team trainer and Glen Martins helping out in the dressing room. The Coyotes also received some help last season from Kevin Primeau, a former NHL coach who now resides full-time in the community and sells real estate.
As for his new head coach, Bedard said he doesn’t expect to have him as long as Law was in Osoyoos.
“I don’t think he’s going to be here a long time because he’s going to advance through the coaching ranks because of the quality coach that he is,” he said.
“We develop players; we develop coaches. I’m good with that.”