Exemplary bench boss Don Gagnon and his son, Michael Gagnon, will form the coaching tandem for the Root River Rangers of the Sault Major Hockey Association this 2019-2020 season.
The Rangers are an AA minor midget level team made up of players with 2004 birth dates.
With the Gagnon men at the helm, Root River will line up against older, midget A level players as part of a four-team division — and 30-game regular-season schedule — within the SMHA and participate in various tournaments over the course of the 2019-2020 season.
To be sure, the elder Gagnon has spent a virtual lifetime in the game.
A high-scoring forward, he starred for the venerable Algoma Contractors midgets, was later part of the Soo Greyhounds debut Ontario Hockey League season in 1972-1973 and also skated at the college level for the Lake Superior State Lakers.
And as a coach, “Donny Gags” — as he is known to many in the game — has spent nearly 35 years behind the bench of teams in Sault Major, the Great North Midget Hockey League, the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association. He has also scouted for the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League.
The 2019-2020 season will be the second for Gagnon and his son as a coaching duo — they coached a local pee wee team last year — and Don proudly noted that Michael “is in this for the right reason, the kids.”
As for the 37-year old Micheal, he grew playing minor hockey in Sault Ste. Marie before moving to Blind River to skate as a forward at the junior level, NOJHL.
Meanwhile, as a coach, this will be Michael’s sixth year behind the bench and he is very enthusiastic and appreciative about being selected to direct the local AA minor midget team.
“We are very excited,” the younger Gagnon exclaimed. “Getting this team also gave me a chance to give my dad a chance to coach for his 35th season and he and I are very excited to work with this group of kids and help develop them and have a fun and enjoyable game. It is an amazing feeling for me to be able to give to them for the love of the game.
“It has been a lifetime dream for me to share the bench with my dad and the knowledge he has for the game and last year we were very successful with our pee wee team,” he further relayed to Hockey News North.
Following is the roster for the Root River Rangers for the 2019-2020 season.
GOALIES: Joel Belec and Matthew Gagne.
DEFENSEMEN: Connor Zack, Noah Delorenzi, Camden Dugas, Malcolm Robere-McGugan, Cody Grawburger and Jacob Tanner.
FORWARDS: Ashton Lemieux, Carter Benka, Tyler Luszinski, Nathan Palmer, Jersey Belleau, Montana Mattalo, Daniel Bumbaco, Brett Morgan and Dillon Ritchie.