In a surprise move — and with the start of the 2014-2015 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League regular season less than five weeks away — Zane Neily has stepped down as head coach of the Mattawa Blackhawks.
Mattawa owner-general manager David Beauchamp confirmed Neily’s abrupt departure to HockeyNewsNorth.com.
“Zane was amazing last year through some tough times,” Beauchamp began. “(In resigning as head coach of the Blackhawks) Zane has indicated he would like to spend more time with family and friends.”
Beauchamp told HockeyNewsNorth.com that he expects to announce a new head coach by the end of the weekend.
Neily was Beauchamp’s coach in 2013-2014 when the franchise was based in North Bay and known as the Trappers.
The Trappers finished seventh in what was an eight-team NOJHL in 2013-2014, posting a regular-season record of 15-35-6 before losing to the eventual-champion Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in the first round of the playoffs.
Playing before small crowds at tiny West Ferris Arena in North Bay, the Trappers closed out the 2013-2014 campaign by moving their home games to Mattawa’s Mike Rodden Arena.
During this off-season, NOJHL governors approved Beauchamp’s request to officially move the franchise that he purchased over a year ago from North Bay to Mattawa.
The 25-year old Neily becomes the second member of the Blackhawks hockey department to depart the team since the end of the 2013-2014 season.
Earlier, Chris Dawson resigned as Mattawa’s general manager and was eventually hired to oversee hockey operations for the new Powassan Voodoos of the NOJHL.
As Mattawa’s owner, Beauchamp assumed GM duties of the Blackhawks following the departure of Dawson.