Okanagan Hockey Academy (OHA) Penticton General Manager Scott May today announced the head coaching staff for the 2020-21 season.
“We are very excited with the group of head coaches that we have put in place for the 2020-21 season,” said May. “While there are several familiar faces behind the bench, we have made some divisional and team moves that we feel is in the best interest of the student athletes, coaches and the program.”
U18 Prep: Craig Bedard
Entering his ninth season with OHA, Bedard is a former student athlete and team captain at the NCAA level with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, as well as a former assistant coach with the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders and BCHL's Penticton Vees. He was the head coach of Team Pacific at the 2006 World Under-17 Challenge and the head coach of Team BC at the 2007 Canada Winter Games.
Female U18 Prep: Cassea Schols
Schols joins OHA after spending one season as an assistant coach at Grant McEwan University. Schols has served as an assistant coach for Team Alberta on three occasions, winning the gold medal in 2019 at the Canada Winter Games. She was the head coach of the Northern Alberta Xtreme Female U18 Prep team from 2016-2019.
U17 Prep Black: Robert Dirk
A long time head coach at OHA, Dirk played nine seasons in the NHL with the Blues, Canucks, Blackhawks, Ducks and Canadiens. He played his junior hockey with the WHL's Regina Pats and was the 53rd overall selection at the 1984 NHL Draft. Dirk is a former head coach at the ECHL, WCHL and UHL level, and served as the head coach of Team Pacific at the 2010 World Under-17 Challenge.
U17 Prep White: Dave Whistle
An assistant coach with OHA since 2016, Whistle will be behind the bench for the new U17 Prep team this coming season. After spending eight seasons as a head coach in Europe, Whistle was named the head coach of the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs for two seasons. He played in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers and the Brandon Wheat Kings prior to attending Brandon University, where he spent four seasons. Whistle enjoyed a seven-year professional playing career in Europe, where he was inducted into the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.
Female U17 Prep: Venla Hovi
Hovi joins OHA after spending two seasons as an assistant coach with the University of Manitoba Women’s Hockey team, as well as an on-ice instructor with Jets Hockey Development for one season.
Prior to coaching, Hovi enjoyed an illustrious playing career that saw her play at the international, professional, and collegiate levels. She represented Finland at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics, winning the bronze medal in 2010 and 2018. She played in eight World Championships, winning silver in 2019 and bronze in 2008, 2009 and 2017.
U16 Prep: Dennis McKinnon
After four seasons as the head coach of the OHA U15 team, McKinnon takes the reigns as head coach of the U16 Prep team. A former head coach of the BCHL's Trail Smoke Eaters and AJHL's Sherwood Park Crusaders, McKinnon has over 20 years of experience with BC Hockey's High Performance Program, including the position of head coach of both the Team BC U16 and U17 teams from 2001-2004.
U15 Prep: Mike Needham
After coaching the OHA U15 Prep team for three seasons, Needham joined the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers as an assistant coach from 2014-2018, on top of being their skills coach since 2011. Needham 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 NHL. Needham played 95 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, which included capturing the 1992 Stanley Cup, before playing five games with the Dallas Stars.
U15: Mike Egener
Entering his fifth season as a head coach with OHA, Egener is a former assistant coach with the Mount Royal University Men's Hockey team. Prior to coaching, he enjoyed an 11-year professional hockey career in the AHL, ECHL and Europe. Egener was drafted 34th overall by the Lightning at the 2003 NHL Draft after a 246-game career with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen.
Interested in attending the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton next season? Register for our male evaluation camp, which will be held July 11-12!
At the end of grade nine, my parents and I decided it would be beneficial for both my hockey and scholastic development to attend OHA the next year. We toured other hockey academies, but ultimately felt OHA was the best fit for me. The coach’s and trainer’s expertise allowed me to learn more about the game, further develop my skills, strength and stamina and readied me to enter the WHL as a competent and confident 16 year old. With the support of great teachers and tutors my grades improved and I made friends that will last a lifetime. I highly recommend OHA for the player who is looking to take their game, grades and life skills to the next level."