GF Tribune: One last playoff ride: Providence-bound Heimel leads Americans into postseason

Jeff Heimel hopes to conclude Americans’ tenure with a flourish

By Lee Vernoy, Tribune Sports Writer

March 15, 2018

Jeff Heimel’s six-year journey as head coach of the Great Falls Americans is winding down.

And – as he will tell you: “The best is yet to come.”

Heimel, who will become the head coach of the fledgling University of Providence men’s hockey team next fall, is leading the Americans into the NA3HL Frontier Division playoffs, beginning Friday night at 7:30 when the Americans host the Helena Bighorns at the IcePlex to begin the best-of-three first round.

Game two is Saturday at 7:05 in the Capital City; game three, if needed, will be back at the IcePlex Sunday night at 7.

This is all that’s on Heimel’s mind right now. And justifiably so.

“It’s exciting to talk about, but I don’t want to put the cart before the horse and look ahead right now,” Heimel said. “My main focus is on these guys; the Americans. And I can’t think of a better way to go out but to go all out for these guys and work as hard as I can for them.

“I owe it to them, and they deserve it.”

Right now, the Americans are playing their best hockey, winning 15 of their last 17 matches.

“We’ve got a great group here,” Heimel said of his charges. “Right now, we need to showcase our ability – what we’ve learned this year – and apply it to our postseason.”

Five of the six seasons Heimel has been behind the bench have been fruitful seasons of 35 or more wins. Only the first year, where Great Falls won all of 16 games (16-30-2), was a rebuilding year, but it was still 1,600 percent better than the previous season, where the Americans won only once.

“A lot of emotions come into the picture,” Heimel said when asked to describe his six-year tenure as the Americans’ mentor. “It has been very special; memories of the many players, the staff members, all the wins and losses, the championships.

“it’s been a roller coaster at times, but it’s been one heck of a ride.”

All that’s missing from that list is a Silver Cup Title.

Heimel adds that there’s been two very important pieces to his success over the past six years, beginning right at home.

“My wife, Megan, has been my rock,” Heimel said. “She stood by my side through the recruiting trips, the long hours, the late nights. And she’s been an excellent mother to our children, Christian and Preston.

“The second piece has been the flexibility and support from our ownership group to get the job done here, as well as the many staff members that have contributed to our success, including our assistant coaches, our billet coordinator, Jeremy Williamson (Americans’ play-by-play announcer), and the many others who have been instrumental to our team’s success.

“It’s been a heck of a ride.”

Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: One last playoff ride: Providence-bound Heimel leads Americans into postseason (March 15, 2018)