Mike Mondin named new head coach of Canadian sledge hockey team

CALGARY – Mike Mondin, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant, was named head coach of Canada’s sledge hockey team Wednesday.

Billy McGuigan of Charlottetown, P.E.I., will join Mondin as an assistant coach, Hockey Canada said in a release.

Mondin, from Trail, B.C., was a guest coach with the sledge team in 2007-08 before joining the staff full-time.

“Mike has a terrific knowledge of our players and our program, and we are excited that he will be leading the national team this season,”Brad Pascall, Hockey Canada’s vice-president of hockey operations and national teams, said in a release.

Mondin replaces Jeff Snyder, who spent six seasons as the team’s head coach.

The move comes a day after four of the teams longtime players announced their retirement.

Under Synder, and with Mondin as an assistant, Canada won gold medals at the 2006 Paralympics, the 2008 world championship, the 2007 and 2008 world sledge hockey challenges, and the 2009 Hockey Canada Cup.

But Canada had a disappointing early exit for the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver, losing to Norway in the bronze medal game.

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Snyder will remain with Hockey Canada in an advisory role.

McGuigan, of Charlottetown, P.E.I., is the current head coach and general manager of the Miramichi Timberwolves of the Maritime Hockey League. He played parts of four seasons of professional hockey in the Colonial Hockey League, West Coast Hockey League and Central Hockey League.

Canada’s national sledge hockey team opens the 2010-11 season with a selection camp Sept. 9-12 at CFB Petawawa in Petawawa, Ont.

A final roster of 15 players will be selected from the 30 players invited to the camp.

Among those attending the camp will be 11 of the 15 players who represented Canada at the 2010 Paralympics. Captain and defenceman Jean Labonte, forwards Herve Lord and Todd Nicholson and goalie Paul Rosen, announced their retirements Tuesday.

This year’s schedule for the national team includes a pair of three-game series against the United States in October and November, a tournament in Japan in February and the 2011 world challenge, which will be held in April at a Canadian city still to be determined.