By Scott Mansch, Tribune Sports Writer
October 18, 2017
GREAT FALLS Mont. –Jeff Heimel has been highly successful as a recruiter with the Great Falls Americans, and now the hockey coach hopes to attract skating talent to the University of Providence.
Heimel on Wednesday was named head coach of the fledgling Argos men’s hockey team, a program slated to begin competing next fall. Dave Gantt, UP’s vice president for athletics, made the announcement.
Heimel, a Minnesota native who has built the Junior A Americans into a hockey power in the North American 3 Hockey League, said his new job is a dream come true. He and his wife, Megan, have two young sons who were both born in Great Falls.
“I’ve always wanted to coach college hockey,” he said. “My wife and I figured we’d probably have to move in order to make that happen, and that was always a sad proposition for us. And then lo and behold this opportunity comes along. My wife and I really are involved in the community and appreciative of the community. I can’t think of a better scenario for us.”
Heimel, 31, is from North St. Paul, Minn., and played semipro hockey in Phoenix before joining the Americans in May of 2012. He took over a team that had been 1-47 the previous year and in six seasons behind the Americans’ bench has fashioned a record of 174-73-13.
The Americans have won two NA3HL Frontier Division playoff championships and in 2013-14 finished runnerup for the league championship. Recruiting is obviously a strength.
“Relationships,” Heimel said. “Relationships with players and families. I always promise what I can deliver, and nothing more. And over the course of time, people appreciate that. And that’s why I’ve had been able to build connections with families and brothers. At the end of the day you’ve got to have good relationships with players and actually care about them.”
Heimel will continue to coach the Americans this season until devoting his full-time efforts to the UP Argos come spring.
“I’m all-in, and that’s not going to change,” Heimel said of the Americans. “If anything it’s a little bit of motivation, because we’ve done everything in this program except win a championship across all divisions. That has to be the goal. I’m really pleased with how we’ve started the season (7-1-1) and I have every intention that our team can get the job done.”
Americans owner Jim Keough and team president Quin Keough are confident the Junior A organization will continue to thrive.
“We started this program in 2010 to move up kids and now we’re seeing a coach move up, so we’re really excited about that,” Quin said. “When we first started there were a few teams in the league that held on to players – they wouldn’t move them up. Our philosophy is always to move up players. I think we’re really recognized around the league for doing that. And now we’re really excited to do that with a head coach.”
How about a replacement?
“It’s going to be open competition,” Quin said. “We already have some pretty good prospects.”
Jim said the recent success of the Americans, which average about 800 fans per game to rank among the top tickets in the NA3HL, should help find a quality new head coach.
“Not only is it easier to recruit good players, but it will also be easier to recruit a top-notch coach,” Jim said. “We’re very excited about the partnership with the college.”
Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: Americans’ coach Heimel named to new post at UP (October 18, 2017)