Fort McMurray, AB – The Fort McMurray Oil Barons welcomed three new staff to its hockey operations team on Friday. Derek Stone (Sherwood Park, AB) will join the team as player development and life skills coach, Cody Hryniw (Edmonton, AB) as goaltending coach and Wes McLeod (Mission, BC) as an assistant coach.
As player development and life skills coach, Stone will work with all players on the team’s current roster by providing personal advice, support and encouragement. This includes checking in with players before and after games, helping them increase their self-confidence through conversation, and helping them manage the off-ice pressures that come with competing at an elite level of hockey in the AJHL.
Stone has previously worked with players competing in midget and junior leagues across Western Canada and in professional leagues in both North America and Europe. Along the way, he’s coached and worked with players that have played in the WHL, including Fort McMurray’s Brandon Ralph – who remains a close friend today.
“Playing hockey at an elite level brings a lot of pressure and for a young guy that can be a lot to manage,” said Stone. “Whether that’s dealing with criticism on social media, working through a slump, or the pressure of living away from home for the first time – I’m here to the support the guys in any way possible and help them be at their best both on and off the ice.”
Hryniw re-joins the Oil Barons, after previously serving as the team’s goaltending coach for three seasons from 2011 to 2014. His coaching experience dates back much further, having coached numerous goaltenders competing in midget and junior leagues across Western Canada over the past 17 years. Most notably, Hryniw has spent time coaching at the Okanagan Hockey School, but he’s also spent time with the Drayton Valley Thunder and has coached at various development camps led by Hockey Alberta.
“Having coached in the Edmonton area for many years, I’ve had the opportunity to watch and get to know Eric Szudor (Edmonton) and Chris Curr (St. Albert) during their days in midget,” said Hryniw. “I’m excited to work with them this year and support them in their development as goaltenders in the AJHL.”
McLeod joins the Oil Barons after serving as a coach with the Fraser Valley Thunder Birds of the BC Hockey Major Midget League for the past two seasons. McLeod has also coached at the Midget AA level with the Mission Stars and has served as an evaluator for U15 and U16 midget teams in BC, including last year’s team that competed in the Western Challenge Cup.
“I’m excited to come to Fort McMurray and join a well-respected organization in the Oil Barons,” said McLeod. “Having the opportunity to work with Tom (Keca) and Dave (Dupas) is something that I truly value. Both guys have a tremendous level of experience and respect within Canada’s Junior A ranks and I look forward to learning from them.”
While serving as an assistant coach with the Oil Barons, McLeod is also completing a kinesiology degree with a minor in business from Fraser Valley University through distance learning.
“As an organization, we’re excited to welcome Derek, Cody and Wes into the fold,” said Oil Barons Head Coach and General Manager Tom Keca. “As coaches, it’s our job to help our players move on to the next level. Derek, Cody and Wes each bring skills that will help our players achieve their personal goals, both on and off the ice.”
For more information, please contact:
Tom Keca, Head Coach and General Manager
Phone: (780) 881- 3108