Bielby adds GM title
Tyler Bielby was the natural choice to fill the large shoes of retiring general manager Frank Girhiny with the St. Catharines Falcons.
Bielby, who guided the Falcons to a Sutherland Cup in 2022 and the best overall record in the Greater Ontario Hockey League last season, was already familiar with the position from having an excellent working relationship with Girhiny.
“Frank and I worked well together for a lot of years,” Bielby said. “We communicated a lot with decision making with extra players or at trade time. I thank him. He would always lean on me as coach and got my thoughts so I think that helped going into this role. There have been pieces I have worked on gradually over the years.”
Girhiny feels the club is in good hands with Bielby and his staff.
“When I decided I was going to be leaving I thought the natural progression would be Tyler,”Girhiny said. “He has the experience of working at this level and his organization and communication skills are second to none and it’s important at this level when you’re coaching to be involved with player decisions.
“He’ll represent the Falcons well.”
Bielby is thrilled to have the opportunity.
“It’s great, it’s an honour, especially from such a historic franchise in the Niagara Region and within the hockey community,” he said. “Growing up around the rink and watching junior games, to see it come full circle to have this opportunity, I’m real excited.”
Bielby will be aided by assistant general managers Zack Schipper and Michael Raskin while the coaching staff of Greg Jambrosich, Matt Miller, Rick Girhiny and Ryan Ludzik are all returning.
“We’ve always had such a cohesive unit and that’s credit to Frank for bringing in the right kind of people, and that’s the greatest thing moving forward, we’re not missing or losing any other pieces,” Bielby said. “We’re going to attack this as a team setting and I’m excited as far as the building goes and we’ll be ready to go right away.”
Girhiny, a 58-year-old Niagara Falls resident, leaves with an impressive record of two Ontario championships, a 272-95-1 record as coach and 532-194-6 mark as GM of St. Catharines. He also won a Sutherland Cup as GM of the Thorold Blackhawks in 2005.
“I’ve been pretty fortunate,” he said. “I’m proud but being able to work in pro hockey with Bauer and work in the NHL and work with the major colleges, it really gave me an opportunity to see how things were done with practices and in the dressing room and to see (son) Christian play at a higher level, that really gave me an opportunity to see how it was done.”
Girhiny is also proud of leading a minor midget team, led by Dougie Hamilton and Jordan Maletta, to an Ontario Hockey Associaton Silver Stick championship.
“That was probably one of the biggest feats for me, probably even more than the Sutherland Cup,” Girhiny said.
Girhiny also squeezed in a season as an assistant coach to Mike McCourt with the Niagara IceDogs.
“That’s where I really got my MBA in coaching,” he said.
Girhiny isn’t quitting the game cold turkey.
He is staying on with the Falcons as a senior advisor. He also plans to follow the Ridley Tigers where son Christian will act as an assistant to McCourt this season.
“Sit back and enjoy myself,” Girhiny said when asked for his plans. “Look to travel more and spend time with more time with my grandchildren.”
Schipper, a 29-year-old St. Catharines native, is looking forward to the opportunity.
“Super excited about my position as assistant general manager,” he said. “Very thankful to Tyler and the board for believing in me. I’m excited to continue building winning teams in St. Catharines. I used to go to games as a kid every Friday night so this organization has been apart of my life for a long time.”
Raskin is a 24-year-old native of Vaughan.
“The Falcons are such a first-class organization I’m just so excited to be a part of it,” he said.” There’s a history and culture of winning here and every year we have one goal — to win the Sutherland Cup.
“Tyler is an incredible coach and he brings so much to the table both on and off the ice. With his work ethic, I have no doubt he’ll be equally as successful as a general manager. Zack’s experience in the league is a huge asset to us and with the three of us working together, we’re not going to be stopped.”
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