Dan new head man for IceDogs
Dan Fitzgerald couldn’t say yes fast enough when he was asked if he would like to be the next coach of the Niagara IceDogs.
“I think (I said yes) instantaneously,” Fitzgerald chuckled. “I think even Darren was surprised how quickly I responded.”
The 34-year-old Ancaster resident was approached to be the sixth coach in the organization’s history by new IceDogs owner Darren DeDobbelaer, whom he worked with for the last several seasons in Brantford.
“It feels great to be named the head coach of the Niagara IceDogs,” Fitzgerald said. “This is a world-class organization and to be working with Darren still is unbelievable. I know how dedicated he is and I know the staff we’re bringing in is first class and to be able to go to work every night in front of the best fan base in the Ontario Hockey League is going to be a real treat and a real honour.”
Fitzgerald spent the past four seasons as the head coach of the Brantford 99ers in the Ontario Junior Hockey League. The 99ers finished with a 22-29-0-3 record last season. Prior to his stint in Brantford, Fitzgerald spent a season as head coach of the St. Catharines Falcons and has also coached junior in Cambridge and Dundas.
He always had the goal of coaching in the OHL.
“I’ve always looked at ways to improve myself as a coach,” he said. “I feel the coach I am now is better than the coach Brantford had and better than the coach St. Catharines had and Cambridge had. It was always focusing on where my feet were, knowing if I did that and did a good job and continued to develop, opportunities like this would present themselves.
“You have a goal and you have it in your head if an opportunity presented itself you would do everything you could to make it work and to be asked to continue to work for Darren at this level, with this team, in this region, it’s a perfect marriage.”
Fitzgerald, along with his wife Robyn and son Ciaran, plan to move to Niagara at some point. He intends to spend part of the summer getting to know his players, which he views as vital.
“I want to build relationships with them before we hit the ice,” he said. “We’ll do some Zoom and video work and we’ll talk some hockey but I also want to talk about life and understand who they are and let them understand who I am. I think if we build that trust through those relationships it will be advantageous for us when we are in those dog days of the season and things get hard. If we build that trust, we know we can rely on each other.”
Fitzgerald indicated an announcement on the rest of the coaching staff would be coming shortly.
Training camp opens Aug. 29.
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