By Kevin Scott
GREAT FALLS, Mont., October 18, 2017 — Great Falls Americans Head Coach and General Manager Jeff Heimel was recently announced as the new head coach of the inaugural men’s hockey team at the University of Providence in Great Falls, Montana. Dave Gantt, University of Providence’s Vice President for Athletics made the announcement.
The University of Providence (formerly University of Great Falls) Argonauts announced last week that they were forming a men’s hockey team to begin play during the 2018-19 season.
The former Americans coach becomes the first-ever men’s hockey coach at the Great Falls university. Heimel plans to finish out the 2017-18 season as the head coach of the Americans before moving on to the college ranks along with beginning the recruiting process for the Argonauts.
During his six years with the Americans hockey team, the Minnesota native has built consistent winning teams while compiling a record of 174-73-13. The newly named college coach guided the Americans to two Frontier Divisional Playoff Championships and a 2013-14 American West Hockey League (AWHL) Finals runner-up finish. He is well respected around the NA3HL as was selected to coach the 2014-15 and 2015-16 NA3HL Top Prospects Divisional squad and the U18 Top Prospects team in 2016-17. Jeff was also the AWHL Coach of the Year for the 2014-15 season.
Before joining the Americans in May 2012, he played semi-pro hockey in Phoenix, Arizona. He and his wife Megan, have two children.
The Americans, who are current members of the Frontier Division in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), coaching gig has brought many avenues of experience including managing budgets, schedules, travel, recruiting experience, and coaching and mentoring college-age athletes.
The similarities between junior hockey and college-level hockey are the same. The junior college coaches have pressure of bringing in recruiting numbers to help drive the revenue and they must deal with young athletes who are living away from home for the first time.
“I have always wanted to coach college hockey,” said Heimel. “It’s been a long-time dream of mine.”
Many junior hockey players aspire to play at the collegiate level and a large number of American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) and most come from the junior hockey ranks so he will be able to recruit his current players and his opponents during the current season. He is also the owner and operator of the Junior Hockey Academy, a small and privately-operated hockey school and online hockey academy where he can bring his knowledge of local and regional youth hockey.
Due to the recent success of the Americans, Great Falls Americans team owner Jim Keough is confident that the Americans will land a top-notch coach that will help the team continue to succeed.
Additional Media Coverage: October 18, 2017: Great Falls Tribune: Americans coach Heimel named to new post at UP