Sunday, 27 March 2011

Tigers' Assistant Just One Year Removed from On-Ice Playoff Battles

When the Brandon Wheat Kings had a glut of 20-year old players in October, they helped Jacob DeSerres and Andrew Hayes find spots in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and traded Mark Schneider to Regina (for Dominick Favreau).

When the Medicine Hat Tigers settled on Wacey Hamilton, Thomas Carr and Jace Coyle as their 20-year old players, they released third-year forward Joey Frazer and then invited him back to join their coaching staff.

It was a unique situation to be sure, but one Frazer feels simply advanced what he had been hoping to do all along.

“I always wanted to coach after my hockey career was over but I didn’t think it would be that soon,” said Frazer last week, “It was just a great opportunity for me and I’ve really enjoyed it this year.”

A product of Brainerd, Minnesota, Frazer played 132 career games with the Tigers including the season opener this season.

One of the challenges he faced when moving from player to coach was going from a peer-to-peer relationship with the Tigers’ players to one of, in a lot of ways, authority.

“There were a couple of situations where the guys want you to kind of side with them but I’m a coach now so I have to go with the coaches,” said Frazer, who had 18 goals and 30 points in 70 games last season, “The guys have been really good about it, it’s been a great experience. I just can’t thank the guys enough for giving me that respect that a coach needs and listening to me when I had things to say.”

Conversely, Frazer went to a peer-to-peer relationship with Tigers’ head coach Shaun Clouston and assistant coach Darren Kruger but the 20-year old Frazer says the biggest challenge has been trying to resist the urge to get back out on the ice.

“Every once in a while, you have that itch to get back out there, I think that’s probably been the toughest thing. It’s been such a great year, the team’s been so great, and I just can’t thank the coaching staff enough,” says Frazer, “It’s a great time just teaching guys, trying to help them every step of the way. Just seeing them be successful is very gratifying…I think I’m hooked.”

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