NANAIMO — April has been a month of change for the North Island Silvertips hockey team.
The local BC Major Midget League team has parted ways with long time coach Jason Dubyna, added a new general manager in Zed Malenica, and brought in Dave Johnston as the club's new bench boss.
Dubyna coached the Silvertips for five years and draws high praise from Malenica, who worked along side him primarily as a scout.
"He was one of the first people in major midget to bring the team into the school, to have their own class, to have extra ice," Malenica said. "Now I think every team in the league does that, so I think Jason was a visionary."
There's no official word yet, but Dubyna will likely re-surface with another team in the Nanaimo area.
There's no doubt the new coach brings a wealth of experience to the position.
Johnston was a long time head coach in the VIJHL with the Oceanside Generals.
He's also been an assistant coach with the BCHL's Nanaimo Clippers and Cowichan Valley Capitals, and most recently he coached a midget academy team in Fort St. John.
His philosophy is defense first, something that took awhile for his team to grasp last season, but Johnston says that team played .700 hockey in the second half of the season.
The new coach won't be changing his approach working with the Silvertips.
"These kids need to learn to be 200 foot hockey players. One of the biggest things you see when good quality players come up through the system and they get to Junior A or the Western Hockey, is their abililty to understand and to be successful as 200 foot players. It's a real struggle and it's a real struggle for coaches," said Johnston.
As the new GM Malenica will take on a bigger role this season and both he and Johnston have said recruiting is a very high priority for the club.
Malenica is also hoping to get the community more involved with the team, and establish a board of directors for the Silvertips.
The 2016-17 season saw North Island finish with a record of 9-30-0-1.
It was the fifth straight season that the club finished well below .500.
While the new regime recognizes the need for a better record, the track record for the Silvertips moving players to the next level is quite good.
Some of the recent alumni include Dylan Coghlan and Owen Hardy in the Western Hockey League, Carter Turnbull and Nico Somerville in the BCHL, and Trent Bell and Dawson Heathcote in the VIJHL.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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