OHA coach Needham joins WHL Blazers

Sep 24, 2014

The Okanagan Hockey Academy is pleased to congratulate Mike Needham on his appointment as an associate coach with the Western Hockey League’s Kamloops Blazers.

Mike_Needham_1415.jpgNeedham leaves the Okanagan Hockey Academy after spending the past three seasons with the organization as the head coach of the OHA Bantam Prep team, which under his leadership saw 23 players selected in the WHL Bantam Draft, including seven players taken in the first round.

“We would like to congratulate Mike on this appointment,” said OHA President, Andy Oakes. “He has played a major role in our development of our Bantam program over the last number of years and has proven that he can develop young athletes physically and mentally.  The commitment the Needham family has made to OHA over the past number of years has been tremendous and we thank and appreciate everything Mike, his wife Cathy, son Matt and daughter Brett have done.”

“I am leaving with very fond memories at OHA,” said Needham. “It’s a great organization with tremendous people, tremendous leadership and I am very thankful I got to work there and learn from all those people.”

Needham has been the Blazers skills coach over the past three seasons, but will now move into a permanent position with the club, which features three former OHA players on their roster, including Mike’s son, Matt Needham, along with rookies Deven Sideroff and Cole Kehler.

needham-photo.jpg“To be given the opportunity to work with my son again is a big thing for me,” said Needham. “It’s a great opportunity to see him play some junior hockey and hopefully help him out along the way. I coached Deven my first year at OHA with the bantam program and Cole was at OHA last year. There are a lot of familiar faces there and I look forward to getting the opportunity to work with them again.”

The Calgary, Alberta native played 225 games with the Blazers as a player from 1987 to 1990, before moving onto the professional ranks where he appeared in 100 games in the National Hockey League. Needham played 95 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, which included capturing the 1992 Stanley Cup, before playing five games with the Dallas Stars.

Kip_Noble1415.jpgIn the interim, OHA has placed Kip Noble on the coaching staff of the OHA Bantam Prep team and will support him with veteran coaches Dixon Ward and Rob McLaughlin. 

Noble, 46, is a former stand-out defenceman at Michigan Tech in the NCAA, where he was named an All-American after his senior year. Noble recorded 123 points (36-87-123) in 156 career games in the NCAA after spending one season in the BCJHL (now BCHL) with the Kelowna Packers.

The Dawson Creek, BC product, who has also been an on-ice instructor with the Okanagan Hockey School for the past six summers, spent 10 seasons playing professional in Great Britain and the Netherlands before returning home for a successful senior hockey career. Noble won the Allan Cup, which is the national senior men’s championship, twice in four seasons. The first coming with the Powell River Regals in 2006 before he won it again as a player/coach with the Fort St. John Flyers in 2010.

Off the ice, Noble taught Grade 8 for eight years at Central Middle School, as well as Grade 5/6 at Canalta Elementary School in Dawson Creek, BC.

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OHA helped shape the person I am today in an abundance of ways. The training regime and on-ice practice went a long way in helping me achieve my set goals in hockey, while making the jump to the next level attainable. Ultimately, it was the lessons I learned off the ice that have shaped me the most. From learning to balance school with hockey, to building character and unity with my team. All in all, OHA was the best decision to not only further my hockey career, but also to further myself as a person."