Las Vegas, NV - The Orlando Solar Bears announced today, from the ECHL Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, the selection of NHL/AHL veteran Drake Berehowsky to coach the Orlando Solar Bears in their return to Orlando. The Solar Bears home season opens Saturday, October 20th at the Amway Center against defending ECHL Champions, the Florida Everblades. Berehowsky will be introduced in person at a press conference in Orlando on Wednesday, June 27th at Orlando City Hall.
"Drake possesses all of the traits we are looking for in our Head Coach," stated Bob Ohrablo, Chief Operating Officer/Managing Partner of the Solar Bears. "He was an aggressive, hard-nosed NHL defenseman with a long playing career, a successful assistant coach and a student of the game. Drake has certainly demonstrated a passion for winning."
Berehowsky will oversee the Solar Bears hockey operations and will be responsible for coaching the team, recruiting players, working with the Minnesota Wild/Houston Aeros (Orlando's NHL/AHL affiliates), and supporting the Solar Bears youth hockey initiatives.
Berehowsky played 549 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes. A tough and rugged defenseman, he accumulated 149 points (37 goals, 112 assists) and 848 penalty minutes. He appeared in 22 NHL playoff games and served as Assistant Coach of the Peoria Rivermen (AHL, 2009-2012) and two major junior level teams - the Barrie Colts and Brampton Battalion (both of the Ontario Hockey League).
"I am proud to take the reigns in Orlando and look forward to building a winning organization," said Berehowsky. "The Solar Bears partners are committed to assembling a first class organization on and off the ice. We will recruit players that possess the skill and heart to win on the ice and that want to be involved in the community off the ice. I want players that aspire to win the ECHL's Kelly Cup while in Orlando and the NHL's Stanley Cup in the future."
"We are confident we selected a winner in Drake," said Joe Haleski, Chairman/Managing Partner of the Solar Bears. "Throughout his playing career he was a feared opponent on the ice and a leader in the dressing room."
Berehowsky is a student of the game. He is currently completing his Level 2 Coaching Certification from Hockey Canada - a prestigious coaching education program. In addition to his professional coaching, Drake has been active coaching at high levels in Canada including work with Hockey Canada programs such as Team Ontario Under 17 Program, National Coach Mentorship Specialty Clinic, and the Under 16 Evaluation Camp. He is a popular instructor at many hockey camps in Canada and the United States.
"Drake's positive energy and enthusiasm is infectious," expressed Jason Siegel, President/Managing Partner of the Solar Bears. "We expect our team to take on his personality and drive. Our fans are really going to enjoy getting to know him."
"The Solar Bears selection of Drake Berehowsky as Head Coach is fully endorsed by the Wild and Aeros," said Jim Mill, the Minnesota Wild's Assistant to the GM. "They have selected an individual that has a passion for coaching, the tools to be a great coach, and a motivator who will insure that the Solar Bears are a tough opponent in the ECHL."