Beer leaving Rock for Okanagan

The Timmins Rock have announced head coach Corey Beer, shown here disputing a call during an NOJHL game against the Rayside-Balfour Canadians at the McIntyre Arena on Nov. 22, has resigned to take a position with the Okanagan Hockey Group, based out of Whitby. FILE PHOTO/THE DAILY PRESS

The NOJHL’s Timmins Rock have announced the resignation of head coach Corey Beer.

Thomas Perry – The Daily Press/Postmedia Network
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The NOJHL’s Timmins Rock have announced the resignation of head coach Corey Beer.

According to a press release issued by the team on Tuesday, the Oshawa native has accepted a job offer with the Okanagan Hockey Group, based out of Whitby.

Beer and his girlfriend, Madison Bosgraaf, are expecting their first child, a girl, on May 21 and the move will allow him to be closer to his family during these uncertain times.

“Nobody could have predicted how this pandemic was going to go and all of the ups and downs that have come with it, from family to financial, everything like that,” Beer said. “My girlfriend, Madi is a high-risk pregnancy and getting back close to home and her family is of huge importance to us.

“As everyone knows, family does come first with a lot of these things.”

As one might expect, however, making the decision to leave a team that has improved in each of the past four years under his leadership was not easy.

“Thinking back, I have said it to all the player, staff, this has been the best four years of my life,” Beer said.

“It has been life changing, from getting the opportunity to now resigning and moving down. Timmins was my new home and it is always going to have a special place in my heart.”

Beer indicated the uncertainty of when, or if, the 2020-21 NOJHL regular season would resume was not a big factor in his decision to resign.

“I don’t know that it was truly a deciding factor,” he said. “I think it was more when this job became available and I would possibly have the opportunity to get it, with everything that has gone on with the pandemic, who knows what will happen in the future?

“I have no doubt the Timmins Rock are going to do everything they can, year after year, to be a great organization in the NOJHL, but who knows what the Junior ‘A’ landscape will look like in the future?

“All that stuff pops into your head. The Okanagan Hockey Academy, based out of Ontario is one of five academies they have, two in the Vancouver area, and in Edmonton, then two over in Europe.

“So, from a financial standpoint, that security … after just signing an extension with Timmins … you never know how the league could operate and that stuff.

“I don’t know. It was a very tough decision because Timmins gave me the opportunity to have stability with that extension.

“It is not even anything to do with them. It is a little bit more the home stuff, getting Madi back down south and making sure she is looked after.

“This just happens to be a byproduct of it.”

Even though the Rock finished with a record of 19-13-0-0, in fifth place in the East Division standings during Beer’s first year behind the bench (2017-18), the team showed steady improvement and stunned the NOJHL’s top team, the Powassan Voodoos, in the playoffs before bowing out against the Cochrane Crunch.

“You think back to the different moments and memories that have been created here and the stuff I have been lucky enough to be part of,” Beer said.

“That’s the stuff that will always stick out for me. There is that video of us knocking out Powassan.

“Ty Gilberds scores the goal and Ty Masternak gets the win. You see Masty’s elation in that celebration, two guys who were dumped from Powassan come back to be the ultimate killers for them.”

In 2018-19, the Rock improved to 33-20-3-0, good for fourth place in the East Division standings. After sweeping the Crunch, the Rock dropped a seven-game series to the East Division champion Hearst Lumberjacks.

Then, in 2019-20, the Rock rolled to a 42-11-2-1 record, good for second place in both the East Division and NOJHL overall standings.

What the team hoped would be a lengthy playoff run was cut short, however, by the COVID-19 pandemic after a 5-2 win over the Lumberjacks in Game 1 of the East Division semi-finals.

This season, the Rock’s NOJHL-best 9-3-1 campaign was put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic indefinitely extended the NOJHL’s annual Christmas break.

“It just speaks to the job everyone involved did,” Beer said, sharing any credit for the team’s growth and success with the entire organization.

“I really look at two guys who were at my hip the whole time, (goaltending coach Marc Bisson) Beezer and (assistant coach James Daschuk) Daz. The three of us on that bench … the ups and downs of that first year and battling through it, everyone put the work in.

“We had three guys there in (Captain Derek Seguin) Segs, (goalie Tyler Masternak) Masty and (forward Riley Robitaille) Robs who were four-year guys.

“Chatting with them and thinking you had a role in who they have become, as young men and hockey players, I know those guys have made me better as a coach.

“(Forward) Josh Dickson and (blue-liner Eric Moreau, three-year guys, and (blue-liner) Josh Anderson the year before, three years with him and his whirlwind first year up here, there are so many … you can go down the list.

“Everyone always says when you look back, the wins and losses don’t mean as much but when you are in it you are pushing for it. It matters to everyone. You want to have a winning team, an organization that can hold its heads up high and say, ‘hey, we are one of the best teams in Canada,’ and we certainly got to that point these last two years.”

There certainly will be no player Beer misses more than his long-time captain.

“The relationship Derek Seguin and I have is beyond hockey,” he said.

“It is something that is life-lasting and it is almost a coach-player friendship as opposed to just a coach-player relationship.

“I have been extremely lucky to be around some incredible people here and it is not lost on me that is why we have been successful. It is the people around you.”

Beer’s new role with the Okanagan Hockey Group will see him coach at the U18 level.

“Right now, Okanagan Hockey Ontario only has the one team, but I know the GM, Paul Pascuzzi, and that is kind of how this job came to be,” he said.

“He wants to grow this and have multiple teams, a U16 team eventually, a U15 team and grow the academy down in Whitby.

“For now, being the U18 coach, I will have control of their team that plays out of the CSSHL.

“The job basically entails of the same things we have been doing here, as a Junior ‘A’ hockey coach, installing game plans, getting guys ready for their opponents, video review, etc.

“The other side of it, obviously, is the academic side of things. We focus a lot more on that to make sure guys’ grades are where they need to be.

“We will be base out of Henry Street (High) School and attached to ETS, which is a workout facility, attached to Iroquois Arena.

“If you want to kind of put the nuts and bolts to it, it is almost like a teacher’s job, as a coach.

“It has got me excited because I grew up coaching in minor hockey, all the way from seven to eight year olds, all the way up through ‘AAA’ through ‘A’ to ‘AA’ all the way up to Midget (now U18).

“It is an opportunity to get back to basics a bit and really work with guys to prepare them for that jump.”

Regardless of whether or not the 2020-21 NOJHL regular season resumes at some point, the team Beer leaves behind is in solid shape to be competitive.

Among the players eligible to return in 2021-22 up front are Gilberds, Zach Smith, Tyler Schwindt, Nicholas Pigeon, Cameron Kosurko, Henry Brock, Landon Deforge, Harry Clark and Tyler Patterson, as well as blue-liners Moreau, Zachary Fortin, Evan Beaudry, Lucas Branch, Bode Dunford and Felix Cadeau-Fredette and goalie Gavin McCarthy.

“When I had the opportunity to coach with Canada East and I missed four to six games, the message, the style of play with Beezer and Dazzer on the bench … boy did they like to give it to me sometimes what their record was when I was away,” Beer said.

“The response, everything stayed the same for them (the players). Like I said, we are just three clones of each other and within that is the ability to keep this thing on the tracks.

“If it (the regular season) starts back up this year, I couldn’t think of two guys who are more capable of keeping things going with continuity and even in following years.

“The template we have all worked so hard to create is now there for everyone.

“The last couple of years, it has been over double digits in terms of guys coming back and I think that speaks to the culture we created. Guys know they have the opportunity to produce.

“We have all put that pride and effort into it.”

Rock President Ted Gooch appreciates all Beer brought to the organization.

“I would like to thank Corey for all he has done during his time here in
Timmins,” he said.

“He has built this team into a solid contender and Corey will truly be missed.”

Beer summed things up by expressing his gratitude to the entire Rock organization, the team’s fan base and the community he has grown to consider his second home.

“The Timmins Rock organization has done so much for me,” he said.

“They really have. They gave me the opportunity to put my stamp on being a head coach, which has then in turn given me the opportunity to get this job.

“The light that has been shone on us and how we do things … I don’t even know how I can properly relay that message about how much I appreciated being here and being part of this community.

“It has truly meant the world to me. It is something I will never forget. I fully plan on coming back in the summertime and playing in the three-man with Beezer and Daz.

“We have got to keep that tradition going.

“This has truly been a home for me and it is difficult, bitter sweet to be leaving.”

According to Gooch, a job posting for a new head coach will be released in the near future.