A familiar face to the Williams Lake Stampeders organization will be behind the bench this season when the local senior men’s hockey team takes the ice this October, working as the team’s new head coach.
Cliff Philpot, who spent a number of years playing in the Central Interior Hockey League for the Williams Lake Stampeders and the now defunct Mackenzie Moose, as well as spending a year as the Stamps’ assistant coach, will be the team’s bench boss for the 2011/12 season.
“It was always something I thought I’d do again,” Philpot said on his decision to return to coaching.
“When I left, I left to just spend more time with my family. I was approached this year and asked what I thought about taking the job and just decided it would be something I’d enjoy.”
Philpot played four years of junior hockey for the Williams Lake Mustangs, before player another year of junior hockey in Kelowna before moving on to play at the senior level.
His last year playing in the CIHL was with the Stampeders in 2007.
“Now, I’m ready to get back at it,” he said.
Philpot said the challenge now is getting the group of players who will attend this year’s September-long tryouts ready for the season’s first game on Oct. 1 when the expansion Lac La Hache Tomahawks visit the Cariboo Memorial Complex.
“My coaching style’s a little more old school,” Philpot said. “I want to be fast, and physical on the ice. We’ll be a well-disciplined team, as well. I’ve got no tolerance for nonsense on the ice.”
The Williams Lake Stampeders coach for the past three seasons, Kelly Kohlen, has moved up to take an assisant general manager role with the team, and will help general manager Don Hanson with running the club’s on-ice operations.
Philpot said expected at tryouts this year are several players familiar to hockey fans in the Williams Lake area.
Williams Lake’s Bill McGinnis, who played for the Williams Lake Timberwolves from 2004-2007, and also NCAA division one hockey for New England College up until this year, is rumored to be in attendance. Tyler Fuller, who played for the Merritt Centennials and also the Timberwolves, along with brother Evan Fuller, a former Vancouver Canuck draft pick, and Tyrel Lucas, who played in the Western Hockey League from 2002-2005, may also be at tryouts.
Along with the majority of last year’s team intact, Philpot said they should have one of their strongest teams in recent years.
The team is also excited about the possibility of hosting this year’s Coy Cup Senior Men’s Provincial Hockey Championship, as the team put forth an application to host this year’s tournament.
“We haven’t had it here since 1998,” Hanson said. “So we hope we can bring it here this year.”
The team will find out whether their application has been successful by mid-September.
For more information on the Williams Lake Stampeders or to view the team’s 2011/12 schedule visit www.wlstampeders.com.