Whitecourt, AB – The Whitecourt Wolverines are proud to announce that Head Coach and General Manager Joey Bouchard has accepted a coaching position with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Wolverines Owner Brent Stark. “As the owner of the hockey club and Joey being a good friend of mine and my family it’s tough to see him go but at the same time our goal is to move our coaches and general managers onto the next level like we do with our players.”
Bouchard has been with the Wolverines dating back to the days as a Jr. B hockey club and has served as the Head Coach and General Manager of the Jr. A franchise since joining the Alberta Junior Hockey League in 2012-2013.
“Joey meant a lot to this program, as you know he and I went back to the first days of Junior B,” commented Stark on the importance of Bouchard to the organization. “We had a beer and a laugh about it last night talking about his first interview here at the Tim Hortons all those years ago, but that’s where our friendship and business relationship began.”
“He was an integral part of Junior B hockey and an integral part of having Junior A hockey here. He’s been with me since day one and it would have been ten years this year so like I said it’s bittersweet but he’s doing what he should be doing and that’s moving his career ahead and up a level.”
The Wolverines have amassed a record of 123-82-25 under the guidance of Bouchard over the last four seasons, making it to the post-season every year. In the team’s inaugural season he led the club to the AJHL’s North Division Final. That year the Wolverines finished with 70 points, a 49 point improvement from the year prior when the franchise was located in St. Albert.
This past season the team saw its most regular season success under the tutelage of Bouchard, setting several franchise records, including; most wins (42), points (90) and longest win streak (7 games x2). The team also had its longest stretch appearing in the CJHL National Rankings at 18 consecutive weeks, with the highest ranking being 8th.
Known for a coaching a high octane offensive style of hockey, Bouchard showed his range as a coach during the 2015-2016 season as he turned the Wolverines into one of the best defensive teams in the AJHL ranking 6th in goals against and 2nd in penalty kill efficiency.
“The one thing about Joe is that he’s a smart guy, smart coach and general manager,” offered Stark on strengths of Bouchard. “He’s always wanting to learn, not only is he book smart, he’s got the good hockey sense to him. He’s not scared to take a step back and find out where his weaknesses are and work on them and I think we saw the results of that this past year with the success we had.”
While he brought results on the ice, his success off the ice may have been even greater. During his time in Whitecourt he has helped 32 players receive scholarships to schools at the NCAA, CIS and ACAC level while moving 22 more players onto careers at the Major Junior level. He has also had three players receive NHL tryouts. At the beginning of this past season, the Wolverines had three players listed by NHL Central Scouting; Justin Young, Taden Rattie and Brandon Hagel.
Bouchard’s coaching career began almost immediately after his playing career ended at the University of Augustana. Prior to accepting his position with the Wolverines he spent time in various coaching roles with the Olds Grizzlys (AJHL), Merritt Centennials (BCHL) and University of Alberta Golden Bears (CIS).
Bouchard will be joining the Shawinigan Cataractes a year after the team reached the QMJHL league final. He will assist under Head Coach Claude Bouchard who is coming off his first season behind the bench. Prior to joining the Cataractes, C. Bouchard was the long-time Head Coach of the Val d’Or Foreurs where he won QMJHL league championship in 2001.
The Cataractes General Manager is Martin Mondou, he helped build the team that won the franchise’s first Memorial Cup in 2012 and has positioned the team to once again be a top contender in the CHL this upcoming season.
The club has a rich history dating back to 1969 and has a present day roster that features several players who have been drafted into the NHL, most notably New York Islanders 2015 first round pick Anthony Beauvillier who represented Team Canada at this past year’s IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships.
The entire Whitecourt Wolverines organization would like to congratulate Joey and his family on this incredible new opportunity and wish him nothing but success in his future endeavours.