ORLANDO, Fla. (Press Release from Orlando Solar Bears) - The Orlando Solar Bears announced today that former Solar Bears defenseman Vince Williams has been named the team's new Head Coach. Williams will be formally introduced at a special media and season ticket holder event to be held in July.
"I am extremely proud to join the Orlando Solar Bears organization. This is a first class organization that is committed to winning and developing its players," said Williams.
"We are committed to giving Williams the resources he needs to make the Solar Bears a Kelly Cup contender," said Joe Haleski, Managing Partner and Chairman of the Solar Bears.
Williams played 8 seasons and 461 games in the ECHL and was recalled in 2000-2001 from Trenton (ECHL) to Orlando (IHL) where he was a member of the Solar Bears Turner Cup Championship team. Williams was also a member of the 2004-05 Kelly Cup Championship team in Trenton where he played for Mike Haviland (Head Coach, Hershey Bears). He served as Team Captain for Trenton during the 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 seasons and was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame.
After retiring in 2006, Williams began his coaching career in Trenton serving five seasons as an assistant for the Trenton Devils and two seasons as Head Coach. As an assistant coach he studied under the guidance of Rick Kowalsky (Head Coach, Albany Devils) and Kevin Dean (Assistant Coach, Providence Bruins). In 2011-12, eighteen (18) of his players went on to play in the AHL and in 2012-13, twenty-three (23) players moved on to the AHL and two players graduated to the NHL (Jason Akeson, Matt Konan). Last year Williams' team finished the season winning 12 of their last 18 games. The Titans ceased operations following the end of their season.
"Vince is an individual we have watched over the years as he transitioned from player to coach," said Jason Siegel, CEO and Managing Partner of the Solar Bears. "His teams have always been disciplined and well-prepared. He is an experienced recruiter and has worked closely in developing his coaching skills with two premier NHL organizations - the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers and was highly recommended by both."
"The Wild are excited by the choice and endorse the Solar Bears selection of Vince Williams as Head Coach," said Jim Mill, the Minnesota Wild's Assistant to the General Manager / General Manager, Iowa Wild (AHL). "He has a long history of developing ECHL players for his affiliated teams and we are looking forward to working with him."
"We were fortunate to have Vince Williams as a member of our coaching staff in Trenton for five seasons," said New Jersey Devils Senior Vice President, Hockey Operations Chris Lamoriello. "His work ethic, competitiveness and overall hockey sense were instrumental in the development of some of our younger prospects. I think that he is a great addition to the Orlando Solar Bears organization."
"We were fortunate to have been able to recruit a coach with a long history and understanding of how the ECHL operates," said Bob Ohrablo, COO and Managing Partner of the Solar Bears. "His knowledge of the League should prove to be a very valuable asset."
Williams was born November 27, 1975 in Ottawa, Ontario. He and his fiancé, Donna, have one daughter, Sarah (13).