Espanola Express has ruffled the rivalry with the Rayside Balfour Canadians by raiding its Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League neighbours of an associate coach, assistant coach, equipment manager and trainer.
In a bold heist, Espanola general manager Chad Clarke has hired associate coach Clayton Bertrand, assistant coach Vagelli Sakellaris, equipment manager Brian Workman and trainer Chris Seguin. All were with the defending West Division champions from Rayside Balfour in 2017-2018.
The Rayside Balfour expatriates, plus former Canadians hockey operations staffer Grant Trayner, join old comrade Dave Clancy in Espanola.
Clancy, who parted ways with Rayside Balfour as its head coach midway through the 2017-2018 season, was hired as Espanola’s new bench boss earlier this summer.
As Rayside Balfour is fresh from winning the West Division crown in 2017-2018, Espanola has missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, winning just 11 of 112 games in the process.
The aforementioned Clarke, who doubles as the president of the Express in addition to being its GM, is thrilled with the new staff additions to the Espanola program.
“It is exciting to have so many great staff members believing in what we have going on here in Espanola,” Clarke told Hockey News North. “We are ready for a turnaround season.
“I have no doubt these guys will have an immediate impact on our program with their championship mentality. We now have the right people with proven track records in place to be very successful both on and off the ice,” added Clarke.
Among the new additions, Bertrand joins Espanola from Rayside Balfour with more than 15 years coaching experience on his resume.
Sakellaris has spent the past two seasons with Rayside Balfour as an assistant and has previous experience as a championship associate coach with the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves of the Great North Midget Hockey League.
As an equipment manager, Workman has been involved in junior hockey for more than 25 years with NOJHL franchises in both Rayside Balfour and Sudbury. Earlier this year, Workman was awarded with an NOJHL life-time membership award for his long-term service.
Seguin, meanwhile, has been a trainer within the Northern Ontario Hockey Association midget ranks along with working for Rayside Balfour over the past season.
And Trayner is a recent graduate of the Sports Administration program at Laurentian University in Sudbury. He has worked in hockey operations in the NOJHL for both Rayside-Balfour and the erstwhile Sudbury Nickel Barons.
The Express will be holding a tryout camp on Saturday, July 21 in Barrie. Players wishing to attend can sign up via www.espanolaexpress.com/tryout-camp.