Thursday, August 04, 2011

Fighting Falcons announce staff changes

With the announcement of their 2011-12 roster less than a week away, the Port Huron Fighting Falcons today announced changes to the organization’s front office staff.

New staff members will help the team strive for success in their second season on and off the ice.

Returning head coach Bill Warren will add the role of general manager to his duties next season, taking control of player movement through trades and tender offers to prospects. Warren looks to build on the momentum of three very successful tryout camps this summer, hoping to bring playoff hockey back to Port Huron.

“The level of talent at tryouts has made it extremely difficult to narrow down a 25-man roster,” said Warren, who took over as head coach half-way through last season. “Too much talent is a good problem to have, though, and it makes me very confident in our team moving forward.”

Director of player personnel Trevor Edwards has expanded his responsibilities to become the team’s new director of sales. Edwards, who played three seasons of professional hockey with the Port Huron Beacons and Flags of the United Hockey League from 2004-2007, will work to expand the Fighting Falcons’ corporate sponsorship sales.

The Carelton Place, Ont., native ran the Fighting Falcons’ tryout camps this summer, and was an integral part of the process of bringing in talented young players for next season’s team.

"I am excited to help show Port Huron what true Junior A hockey looks like,” Edwards said. “It will be a plus to have very talented local players in the lineup as it will be very exciting for the young fans of the Blue Water Area. They will be able to look up to these players as they make the next step in their hockey careers to the USHL, OHL, NCAA and other leagues.

“I also look forward to showing Port Huron that this business model can work long-term,” he added. “It is very different than the semi pro teams that have been here in the past."

As Edwards’ responsibilities have increased, the Fighting Falcons have added two new scouts to the organization, Chad Dameworth and Jason Deskins.

Dameworth enjoyed an eleven-year professional career in the AHL, ECHL, UHL and IHL, including stops with the Port Huron Border Cats and the Port Huron Beacons. The Marquette native played college hockey at Northern Michigan University.

Deskins is also a former pro, having played against Edwards and Dameworth in the 2004-05 season as a member of the Quad City Mallards. A Warren native, Deskins is very familiar with the talent level of the NAHL, having played in the league with the Compuware Ambassadors before his collegiate play at Miami (Ohio).

Behind the bench, Warren has added an assistant coach with years of experience at the junior level. John Heasty, a former assistant coach of the Flint Jr. Generals of the Central States Hockey League (now North American 3 Hockey League) will join the Fighting Falcons this season.

The Fighting Falcons have also added Marcus Vazquez as game day operations manager for the upcoming season. Vasquez takes on the role after spending the past two years in the same position for the Flint Generals and Michigan Warriors.

The team has retained the services of many of last season’s employees, including assistant coach Matt Warren, equipment manager Todd Churchill, athletic trainer Nate Bauer and media and public relations manager Mike Reed.

Owner Maribeth Hayes knows that improvement off the ice is just as important as improvement on it if the team hopes to see an increase in attendance this season.

“I’m extremely excited about the changes we’ve made within the organization, and I think the experience the new staff members bring to the table will be an invaluable asset for us,” said Hayes. “We are a much different organization than we were at this point last season, and I think our staff will continue to keep us moving in the right direction.

“We are committed to keeping hockey in Port Huron for the long haul,” Hayes added, “and we can’t wait for the home opener October 1.”

While the coaching staff takes on the tough task of finalizing the 2011-12 roster, the rest of the organization is focused on becoming more active in the Blue Water Area community.

The organization strived to be visible throughout July’s Blue Water Fest, appearing in the Rotary International Day Parade with their booster club, the Port Huron Minor Hockey Association and the Blue Water Hockey League. Players also passed out information and schedules on Family Night and Boat Night.

This weekend the Port Huron Fighting Falcons Booster Club will have a tent set up at Desmond Landing for the Port Huron/Sarnia International Offshore Powerboat Race, where they will sell t-shirts and raffle tickets; the grand prize includes a pair of season tickets.

Season tickets are on sale now for just $150 at the Fighting Falcons office inside McMorran Arena. The team has recently introduced the “Stars of Tomorrow” package, which includes a ticket to each of the team’s seven biggest promotional nights of the season for $46. The first 200 fans to purchase a “Stars of Tomorrow” package will also receive a free round of golf at Black River Country Club.

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