By Kevin Scott
GREAT FALLS, Mont., June 25, 2014 —The Great Falls Americans have announced that two assistant coaches will be leaving the program to pursue other opportunities.
Great Falls native Dalton Garton will be leaving the Americans coaching staff for the upcoming 2014-15 season to attend college at the University of Washington-Bothell in Bothell, Washington in the fall majoring in Architecture. He was also the Director of Player Personnel for the team for both of his seasons.
Garton, who grew up in Great Falls and graduated from C.M. Russell High School in 2010, played hockey for the Great Falls Americans U-18 team for four years. He helped lead his team to the national tournament in three of the four seasons.
Head Coach Jeff Heimel spoke of Dalton as “an instrumental piece in helping our program grow to where it is today. He will be difficult to replace and will surely be missed.”
The former Americans mentor previously played for the Bozeman Ice Dogs of the American West Hockey League (AWHL) seeing action in both of his stints there. In 2011-12, the 6’1” forward played for the Great Falls Americans competing in seven contests and getting two assists. He scored three goals and tallied seven assists that same year for Bozeman appearing in 29 contests. He was also the recipient of the 2012 American West Hockey League’s Community Service Award.
He “enjoyed seeing an influence he had on the players and watching them grow throughout each season,” stated the former Americans coach. “I also liked being able to make a difference and see the Americans increase their record from year to year. I want to thank (Americans head coach) Jeff Heimel for helping me grow into a leadership role from a coaching standpoint because it was hard coming into the coaching ranks with the players I had played with as teammates the year before (in my final season of junior hockey).”
He wanted to wish the Great Falls Americans the best of luck during their upcoming season.
After playing for Great Falls and coaching the team, he is looking forward to playing club hockey and getting in shape while obtaining his degree.
Dalton’s player statistics can be viewed by clicking here.
The new member of the North American 3 Hockey League will also be without the coaching services of Josh Frider this season. He will be re-stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the Air Force.
After acting as a volunteer coach for the 2011-12 campaign for the Americans, he became a part-time assistant coach last season. Frider grew up playing hockey at a young age in Minnesota and was the leading scorer during his senior year at Moorhead High School in Moorhead, Minnesota.
After playing two seasons of junior hockey with the Minnesota Blizzard in the North American Hockey League (NAHL), he was recruited to play hockey for the Air Force Academy. He helped lead the NCAA Division I Falcons to three conference tournament championships including one regular season championship.
Coach Heimel added that “Josh did a lot of things for our program that he didn’t have to do. He has a family and a full schedule of his own that he was balancing and yet he spent time volunteering to help make our team better. He will be greatly missed.”
He also helped coach the “Learn to Skate” program, Squirts and the high school team in Great Falls before getting the coaching opportunity with the junior hockey team.
“One of the biggest accomplishments that I saw from the program was the turnaround from the first season (1-48 record) to 16 wins in 2012-13 to the 39 wins this season,” said the outgoing coach. “I enjoyed getting to help out the players and watching them improve each week.”
He pointed out that coach Jeff Heimel helped him translate and instruct players since prior to coming to Great Falls he hadn’t been involved in the coaching aspect of the game. Heimel was helpful in getting him prepared for coaching.
Since the area he is going to doesn’t have much hockey, he hopes to coach in a youth roller hockey league and he will help scout for the Americans while in California attending some showcases and tournaments. He would like to bring some talent back to Great Falls.
“I enjoyed my time here and being able to help out and I want to wish the best of luck to this year’s team.”
Meanwhile, Blake Page will remain on the Americans staff as an assistant coach and continue as the Director of Recruiting for coach Jeff Heimel’s squad for the 2014-15 season.