Griffins name assistant coaches
The two spots left vacant on the Grand Rapids Griffins bench earlier this summer have been filled by a pair of local hockey coaches.
Former assistant coach Sprios Anastas left to coach the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, while Jim Paek left to take charge of the Korea Ice Hockey Association and Korean Men’s National Team.
The Griffins said this week that Pat Ferschweiler and Dave Noel-Bernier have been named assistant coaches. The team will still be led by head coach Jeff Blashill, who enters his third year, after signing an extension this offseason.
Ferschweiler most recently helped lead Western Michigan University to a 19-16-5 finish in his fourth year behind the bench as an associate head coach. He spent his first season at WMU in 2010-11 under Blashill and helped the team to a 19-13-10 record. Ferschweiler spent the next two years as an assistant coach.
His coaching career began in 2004 when he assumed the role of general manager and head coach of the Russell Stover Under-18 team of the Midwest Elite Hockey League. In six seasons, he helped lead the team to several Midwest Regional Championships and a third-place finish at the 2010 USA Hockey Tier I 18U National Tournament.
During Ferschweiler’s time with Russell Stover, he also served as the director of hockey for the Kansas City Stars youth organization.
“I am excited to add Pat to our staff,” Blashill said. “Having worked together at WMU, I know firsthand that Pat is an outstanding hockey coach. He excels in developing players, and he has a great hockey mind and a great ability to communicate his thoughts. Most importantly, Pat relates to his players and builds relationships that extend beyond his time coaching them. He’ll be a great asset to the Griffins and Red Wings organizations.”
Before coaching, Ferschweiler spent eight years playing in the International Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League and the British Ice Hockey Superleague. He also spent three years playing at Western Michigan University, where he earned the team’s Most Valuable Player award.
Noel-Bernier has served as the director of hockey for the Eagles Ice Center and Grand Rapids Blades youth program since last year. The 38-year-old also was an assistant for the Grand Rapids Christian High School team last season, where he was named Total Package Hockey’s Michigan High School Division III Assistant Coach of the Year.
He will continue in both of those roles while working with the Griffins.
Noel-Bernier has also served as director of hockey operations at University Nebraska Omaha, before moving on to an assistant coaching job with the Muskegon Lumberjacks in 2010, which was in its shift from the International Hockey League to the United States Hockey League.
Noel-Bernier spent three seasons with the Lumberjacks before moving on to Grand Rapids Christian and the Blades.
The Griffins said Noel-Bernier has helped produce more than 15 NHL draft picks and 50 Division I college players since 2007.
“Dave comes to the Griffins highly recommend by a number of people I trust,” Blashill said. “He has a great work ethic, is very intelligent and is detail oriented, and his experience at Nebraska Omaha and with the Muskegon Lumberjacks will be a great asset for our staff. Dave is a driven coach, and I believe his addition will help us all grow. We are excited to add him to our coaching staff.”
As a player, Noel-Bernier spent three seasons as a college teammate to current Griffins captain Jeff Hoggan at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Following college, Noel-Bernier played six seasons in the minor leagues, including United Hockey League’s Muskegon Fury. In 2003-04, he notched 53 points, including 21 goals, as the Fury won the Colonial Cup.