The Coquitlam Express complete coaching, staff training

The Coquitlam Express has hired an associate coach to join rookie head coach Brandon Shaw behind the bench next season.

The Coquitlam Express completes its bench staff.

Less than a week after the BC Hockey League team hired rookie head coach Brandon Shaw, it added Jeff Wagner as associate coach and director of scouting, as well as the new athletic therapist Gaelle Bergeron.

Wagner was the head coach and general manager of the Fernie Ghostriders in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, a Junior B loop. In his three full years there, he led the team to 74 wins, six draws and 54 defeats. He was named the league’s Coach of the Year in the 2018/19 season.

Express general manager Tali Campbell said Wagner was ready to move up the junior A ranks.

“Jeff’s recruiting ability, organizational skills, approach to coaching and drive to succeed are all things we knew we wanted,” he said in a press release.

Bergeron joins the Express from the Nanaimo Clippers, where Campbell was general manager before moving to Coquitlam last September. She graduated from the exercise science program at Concordia University in Montreal, where she specialized in athletic therapy.

The Express recorded a record six wins, 11 losses and three overtime losses in its 20-game season against the Surrey Eagles and Powell River Kings which ended May 9 at Scotia Barn in Burnaby.

The BCHL recently announced that no players or team personnel have tested positive for COVID-19 during the six-week schedule in which teams were grouped with regional rivals in five central locations in Province. In a press release, the league said it conducted about 2,200 tests before the truncated season began and then every week until its conclusion.

Former coach finishes last in Texas

Meanwhile, former Express head coach Jason Fortier, who steered the team to a regular-season championship in 2020 before its playoffs were cut short last March by the COVID-19 pandemic, said concluded his first season with Odessa Jackalopes with a 3-2 loss to Amarillo Bulls.

Fortier led the North American Hockey League team to a record 12 wins, 36 losses, four overtime wins and four overtime losses. The Jackalopes finished last in the league’s six-team South Division.