Blind River Beavers coach and director of hockey operations Don Gagnon has confirmed the addition of Brandon Gassi to an assistant coach position with the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League team.
The 60-year old Gagnon, who will begin his first full season as Blind River bench boss after taking over midway through the 2013-2014 campaign, said the 27-year old Gassi will assist the Beavers as his work commitments allow.
Gassi is an employee of Essar Steel in Sault Ste. Marie.
“This will be a great way for Brandon to get involved at the junior level,” said Gagnon, who has coached multiple teams on both sides of the St. Mary’s River for more than 25 years.
Gagnon added that Gassi will also scout the North Shore area for the Beavers.
“I have known Brandon for about 15 years. Brandon always played with passion, worked extremely hard and played to win each and every shift he played,” Gagnon said in praise of Gassi. “I believe Brandon will bring that same mindset to his coaching duties. He is a welcome addition to the Beavers.”
Gassi, who as a relentless, hardworking forward advanced from the Jr. B level in Thessalon to high school hockey in the Soo with St. Mary’s to the Division 3, National Collegiate Athletic Association level at both Finlandia University and Northland College, has prior coaching experience with the Sault College Cougars men’s team and at Ashland High School in Wisconsin.
A driven individual, Gassi also holds a pair of university degrees.
As a coach, Gassi said he wants to bring his many experiences to Blind River.
“I would like to utilize the skills I have gained through previous hockey and scholastic experiences,” offered Gassi. “I believe I have the ability to mentor and work with people.”
Through his playing career in the Soo area, Gassi skated for a number of high-end coaches, including Pat Carricato, Mike Flammia and Warren Lavoy.
Interestingly, Lavoy is now the general manager in Blind River, thus it will be a reunion of sorts for him and Gassi.
As Gassi has filled one assistant coach position with the Beavers, Gagnon noted that he is looking to bring aboard another individual to assist him.