The British Columbia Hockey League's Alberni Valley Bulldogs have announced that Nolan Graham is leaving the organization to pursue a coaching opportunity at the NCAA level. Paul Esdale has been named Graham's replacement as the team’s new General Manager and Head Coach.
"We would like to thank Nolan for all of the efforts he put into the Bulldogs organization this year," said Andy Oakes, the team's President and Governor. "He turned the team around in a substantial manner and in a very quick period of time. We appreciate everything he’s done and wish him well in his future endeavor of coaching at the NCAA level."
Graham took the club from last to first in the Coastal Conference this season, capturing the Bulldogs' first regular season conference title with a 45-12-1-2 record and 93 points.
"The past 14 months in Alberni has been phenomenal." said Graham, who joined the Bulldogs in March 2009. "The pride and passion that runs throughout the community is very special and it was unbelievable to be a part of that. I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to have begun my coaching career in Alberni."
Esdale, who joined the Bulldogs as Assistant Coach and Assistant General Manager in September, has been named the Bulldogs' new Head Coach and General Manager.
"This is a great opportunity for me," said Esdale. "I’m truly grateful for the recognition from ownership and I look forward to continuing the momentum we created last season."
Graham and Esdale coached the Bulldogs throughout the team’s successful 2009-2010 season. They set a franchise record for regular season wins with 45 of 60 regular season games.
"When we found out Nolan’s time with the Bulldogs was coming to an end, we conducted a full search for a new head coach," said Oakes. "Paul was the leading candidate coming out of that process. We really feel that Paul’s education, playing background and coaching experience will carry the momentum of the Bulldogs organization forward in the coming years."
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)