O'Fallon Progress

O’Fallon Ice Hockey Club gets new coach

Jason Power coaching with the Springfield JR Blues in the North American Hockey League from 2010-12.
Jason Power coaching with the Springfield JR Blues in the North American Hockey League from 2010-12. Courtesy photo

The O’Fallon Ice Hockey Club’s new leader is a familiar face.

Jason Power, an O’Fallon Ice Hockey Club alumnus, will take over duties behind the bench next season.

“I’m very excited to be back, and we’ve already started training sessions to get the players ready for conditioning before we hit the ice for games in October,” Power said.

Power, who has had roles with the club since graduating in 1998, said he hopes to keep up the team’s recent success, which included capturing the 2A Mississippi Valley Club Hockey Association title last season.

Power takes over leadership of the program from Patrick Roy, who decided to step down after two seasons at the helm.

“There are other things that I would like to accomplish and felt like I could not devote the time and resources that I had moving forward,” Roy said. “I am extremely proud of the accomplishments the team and my coaching staff made in the two years I led the team.”

Power served as the first team captain in the club’s history. His first coaching stint was as an assistant varsity coach for the 1999-2000 campaign. He came back to the coaching staff in the summer of 2003, and he stayed the following two seasons. In 2007, he was asked back again — this time in a head-coaching capacity.

“Along with my staff and a great board, with a goal for the future, we were able to turn a struggling program around from a 1-18-1 season into Southern Division Championship contenders three years later,” Power said.

Power left as head coach of the O’Fallon club after taking a full-time job in the North American Hockey League, the oldest and one of the largest USA Hockey-sanctioned junior circuits with 23 teams.

Kevin Hagarty, an OIHC board member and a parent of a player, said the board is glad to have Power back.

“He met with the players, parents and some of the OIHC board, and he went over his expectations and goals for the team and players individually, too, and he’s got some good plans,” Hagarty said. “Power is not only an alumni, but he’s O’Fallon local and very well-known globally, so we wanted to bring him back.

“Parents who sat in for Power’s team presentation expressed to me that they are very excited and really impressed with what they heard, so it’s a good start.”

Right now, the new coach said he’s focusing on videos, strength and conditioning, as well as nutrition but plans to “hit on the tactical side of the game in September.”

Power said he is looking to build the organization for long-term success.

“Our big focus is athletic and skill development, but we also put an emphasis on academic success, too. So, in hockey, we are looking at the big picture, not just how they fair on the ice,” said Power, who lives in O’Fallon and has two children who attend District 90 schools and are active in ice hockey.

“I believe the game is not about wins and losses, but creating the proper culture,” he added. “Once (that) is built, where staff and players alike buy in, wins will not only come in the short-term, but also permit a winning development structure for the future. Too often people want to sacrifice the future of a program for their own short-term success.”

To help implement his plan, Power will have a coaching staff of former OIHC players. The other coaches will be:

▪  Ben Leonard, class of 2002 and OIHC captain 2000-02.

▪  Scott Loehring, class of 2002 and alternate captain 2001-02.

▪  Brandon Poignee, class of 2006 and captain 2004-05, alternate captain 2001-02.

▪  Bill Shacklady, class of 2006 and captain 2005-06.

▪  Alex Pennebaker, class of 2009 and alternate captain 2008-09.

“We walked the same hallways and wore the same jerseys, so we relate well with the players,” Power said. “They can even go in school and see our pictures and talk to Mr. (Rich) Bickle (O’Fallon Township High School principal) about it, and they enjoy that.”

The team should start training on the ice at its new home rink, the McKendree Metro Rec Plex in O’Fallon, sometime next month.

“The hours are going to be great, and we won’t have to drive all over creation — to Alton or Granite City and other venues — to see the team practice and compete,” said board member Hagarty. “We will be able to stay where we live, for the most part.”

A national coaching reputation

Since 2005, Power has been an integral component of USA Hockey Coaching Education seminars, which are held at various locations across the country.

“On behalf of USAH, I was half of a two-man staff asked to help the Romanian Federation revamp their player development and identification processes along with coaching education,” Power said.

Romania went on to achieve a good deal of success in the International Ice Hockey Federation, Power said.

“The U-20 team took home both a gold and bronze (medals) in the past two years, while the U-18 team won both a silver and a gold, respectively,” he said. “I was asked to be part of the coaching staff for the U-18s last year, which won their first silver medal in the nation’s history for that age group. All four tournaments, my goalies have won tournament MVPs.”

Power has been a participating coach in the USAH National Festivals since 2012.

He has also worked as a coach at various USAH festivals, all the way up to the national festivals, which feature the top 180 players per birth year from across the nation, as well as 30 coaches from across United States Hockey League, NAHL and NCAA.

“With a focus on player development and identification, (I) see annually 1,500 or more players nationwide,” Power said.

Power was assistant coach for the Springfield Junior Blues from 2010-12, handling team operations and running the defense and goal-tending development. His other duties included included video coaching, scouting and business relations within the community.

“Playing a 65-game season, plus playoffs, we moved over 30 players into NCAA hockey at both the Division I and III levels,” he said. “(The) team changed ownership groups at the end of the 2012 season, where I remained in a scouting roll.”

Power helped reboot the Southern Illinois Ice Hawks Hockey Midget program back in 2002 and has helped more than 70 players find schools in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

He is also the former vice president and director of hockey operations and created a “grow-the-game” campaign that saw more than 1,000 kids participate in a floor hockey program in the O’Fallon, Shiloh area for the 2016-17 school year.

Robyn L. Kirsch: 618-239-2690, @BND_RobynKirsch