The Napanee Raiders, the provincial Junior C hockey champions, will have a complete new coaching staff for the 2019-20 season.
Mike Hartwick, Mat Goody, Jeff Foster and Jim Elder resigned from the Schmaltz Cup winners to pursue minor hockey opportunities with the AAA Quinte Red Devils in Belleville and the Greater-Kingston Junior Gaels.
Taking over the reigns will be Ben Hagerman, a former captain with the Raiders in 2005.
Hagerman’s assistants will be Patrick Shearer, Chris Brown and Curtis Brant.
“It’s a pretty big honour to coach this team,” said Hagerman, who last year guided the major midgets in the Quinte Red Devils organization.
The Napanee native played five seasons with the Raiders and understands the trials and tribulations of a Junior C athlete.
“I can relate to what a player at this level goes through,” continued Hagerman, an economic development coordinator for Quinte-West in Trenton.
“I’m definitely a player’s coach but I have firm boundaries for things like structure and discipline. I listen to my coaches and players to make sure we’re all on the same page. If we’re not, we go back a couple of steps to find out why.”
Hagerman realizes that he and his fellow coaching staff will have big shoes to fill. But he said he doesn’t feel the pressure of winning a second straight Ontario title.
“My job is to continue a strong tradition of Junior C hockey in Napanee,” added Hagerman.
“We’ve got a strong core of players returning,” he continued. “They have wealth of knowledge and playoff experience. We believe they will bring that winning culture into the dressing room and pass it along to the new kids that we bring into the program.
“I’m excited about the season ahead and can’t wait to get started.”
WATCH: (May 1) Napanee Raiders clinch OHA Junior C title