The Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) announced today the coaching staffs for the two OJHL All-Star Teams that will compete at the 2013 Central Canada Cup All-Star Challenge that is being hosted by the Terrebonne Cobras of the QJAAAHL from December 27-29 in Terrebonne, Quebec.
For the first time in tournament history, the OJHL will be represented by only two teams, the North-East Conference All-Stars and the South-West Conference All-Stars. The two teams will look to defend the tournament title that was won last season by the OJHL East Division All-Stars in Wellington, Ontario.
Head Coach for the North-East Conference All-Star Team will be Marty Abrams (pictured right - photo credit: Robert John Boucher/OJHL Images), General Manager and Head Coach of the 2014 Dudley-Hewitt Cup host Wellington Dukes. Abrams was selected to guide the team based on Wellington's first place winning percentage as of November 1, 2013. The longtime Dukes' bench boss has led his club to two OJHL championships and appearances at the RBC Cup National Junior 'A' Championship (2003, 2011), as well as two other appearances in the league championship series, finishing as runner-up (2002, 2007). Abrams is also a three-time OJHL Coach-of-the-Year award winner, having been named the Central Division's top coach in 2009 and the East Division's top coach in 2000 and 2002, as well as being named the OHA Coach of the Year in 2011. Recognized for his coaching pedigree, he was selected to be a member of the Team Canada East coaching staff four times (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009) at the World Junior 'A' Challenge, winning two silver medals and one bronze.
Assisting Abrams behind the North-East Conference bench will be Newmarket Hurricanes General Manager and Head Coach Brian Perrin. Perrin returned to the 'Canes bench this season following a one year absence. During Perrin's previous tenure in Newmarket, he led the club to the CCHL Championship in 2010, before falling to the Oakville Blades in the Buckland Cup Final, and the OJHL regular season title in 2011, also being named the OJHL Coach-of-the-Year. He was also the Head Coach of the North Division All-Star Team that finished as runner-up at the inaugural Central Canada Cup that was held in Smiths Falls, Ontario in 2011.
Head Coach for the South-West Conference All-Star Team will be Rich Ricci (pictured left - photo credit: Andy Corneau/OJHL Images), General Manager and Head Coach of the defending OJHL champion St. Michael's Buzzers. Ricci was selected to guide the team based on winning the 2012-13 OJHL Championship with the club's game seven victory over the Newmarket Hurricanes. During his tenure at St. Mike's, Ricci led the club to the OJHL regular season title in 2008 to be named co-winner of the South Division Coach-of-the-Year. The Buzzers have finished in first place in the South Division during three of the last six seasons and he also coached the South Division All-Star Team at the inaugural Central Canada Cup event in 2011.
Assisting Ricci behind the South-West Conference bench will be Toronto Lakeshore Patriots Head Coach Jason Fortier. Fortier took over the Patriots coaching reins this season from General Manager Mike Tarantino and has led the club to be nationally ranked, currently #12 in the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL). Previously having coached the now-decommissioned Vaughan Vipers, Fortier led the club to a South Division regular season title in 2010-11.
The Central Canada Cup All-Star Challenge was created as a competitive alternative to the annual league All-Star Game. It debuted in 2011, hosted by the CCHL's Smiths Falls Bears and is rotated annually between the CCHL, OJHL and QJAAAHL. The uniquely formatted tournament is played with two, 20 minute halves and pits the CJHL's centrally located Junior 'A' loops. This year the NOJHL returns to play following a one year hiatus from the tournament.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)