The Okanagan Rockets are pleased to announce that Eric Blais will be the new head coach of the Rockets for the 2016/17 season.
Blais, a native of Kelowna, has been a staple in the Kelowna Minor Hockey Association for many years, as both a teacher and coach of the game. Blais began his coaching in Kelowna in 1999, working his way up and eventually becoming head coach of the Bantam Tier 2 team in 2005. After just one season behind the bench, Blais led the Bantam’s to a provincial championship in 2007 and was named KMHA Coach of the Year.
From 2007 onto 2014, Eric coached at the midget level, beginning with the Tier 3 team and moving up to the Midget Tier 1’s in 2011, where he would be named KMHA Coach of the Year for the second time in his coaching career. Blais also received attention outside of Kelowna as he was named the 2012 Ernie Gare Award winner, given to the BCAHA’s Minor Hockey Coach of the Year. Blais would follow that up with two straight provincial championships at the Midget Tier 1 level before becoming the Kelowna Minor Hockey Association’s Head Coach from 2014 on.
Blais has also been involved with BC Hockey as he is currently an Okanagan District Evaluator for BC Hockey’s Male High Performance Program. Eric was also behind the bench as an assistant coach for Team BC at the Canada Winter Games in February of the 2015 in Prince George as well as an assistant coach for Team BC at the Western Branch Challenge in October 2015 in Calgary, a team that featured members of the 2015/16 Rockets in the likes of Coleton Bilodeau and Eli Zummack.
“Eric is a builder of men and programs. He is extremely passionate and develops his players on and off the ice,” commented Rockets GM Braeden Pistawka “I'm thrilled at the opportunity to work with him again as we continue to develop our program.“
“I'm very excited and looking forward to the challenge of coaching in the premier midget league in BC,” said Rockets newly anointed head coach Eric Blais “This is a position I have always coveted and look forward to the opportunity of working with Braeden to build a model major midget franchise.”
The position of head coach opened up for the Rockets after 2015/16 coach Jason Williamson departed due to an expanded role in his current job at the Royal Bank of Canada, as well as wanting to spend more time with his family. The Rockets want to wish Jason all the best in his future endeavors.
New head coach Eric Blais, along with GM Braeden Pistawka, will be very busy with the Rockets Spring ID Camp upcoming with goalies reporting on May 12th and the rest of the camp running from May 13th-15th.