Espanola Express of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League is keeping it in house. That is, the Express has filled its vacant head coach position with a familiar name.
Owner and president Jason Rapcewicz has confirmed to Hockey News North that he will coach the Express come the 2021-2022 NOJHL season.
The 44-year old Rapcewicz will take over bench duties from Brent Hughes, who recently moved on from Espanola and the NOJHL after one season — an abbreviated one at that — to become the first head coach of the expansion Vermilion County Bobcats of the minor pro Southern Professional Hockey League.
Rapcewicz, who has been the sole owner of the NOJHL Express since 2019, previously served as an assistant coach in Espanola a few years back when he was a part owner of the team.
He said he is looking forward to returning to a coaching role with the Express.
“I am just excited to be back in the driver’s seat,” Rapcewicz told Hockey News North. “I will have big shoes to fill following after Brent. Having said that, I am excited to get back on the ice and help teach and develop the young players that we will have.
“Recruiting of players (ahead of the 2021-2022 season) has been moving along and we will have some announcements to make over the next couple weeks,” noted Rapcewicz, who added that he will be bringing on a skills development assistant coach and a general manager to be part of the hockey department in Espanola.